De-Nuking Will Get Security Promises and Prosperity, Pompeo Tells Kim

Secretary of state and national security adviser both 'optimistic but realistic' about Trump's meeting with N. Korean leader

If North Korean leader Kim Jong-un cooperates with President Donald Trump’s demands for denuclearization, then the U.S. will “provide security assurances” stipulating that Kim may stay in power, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

Trump and Kim will meet for the first time on June 12 in Singapore to discuss the denuclearization of the peninsula and other demands. The summit will mark the first time a U.S. president has met with North Korea’s leader since the communist nation first formed in 1948.

As Trump prepares for his meeting with Kim, Pompeo emphasized Trump is prepared to grant the “trade-off” if Kim complies with the United States’ full demands.

“We will have to provide security assurances, to be sure,” Pompeo told host Chris Wallace. “This has been the trade-off that has been pending for 25 years.”

“No president has ever put America in a position where the North Korean leadership thought that this was truly possible, that the Americans would actually do this, would lead to the place where America was no longer held at risk by the North Korean regime,” Pompeo continued. “That’s the objective.”

Pompeo said it is now Trump’s task to meet with Kim and “validate the process by which this would go forward” by setting “out those markers so we can negotiate this outcome.”

“We’ll have to see how the negotiations proceed,” Pompeo cautioned. “But make no mistake about it — America’s interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon at L.A. or Denver or into the very place we’re sitting here this morning, Chris.”

“That’s our objective. That’s the end state the president has laid out, and that’s the mission that he sent me on this past week, to put us on the trajectory to go achieve that,” Pompeo added.

Pompeo flew to North Korea last week to complete the summit’s details and negotiate the release of three Americans held captive in North Korea. Trump greeted the three detainees — Kim Dong-chul,, Tony Kim, and Kim Hak-song — when they returned early Thursday morning. Pompeo said he told Kim the U.S. hopes to have North Korea as a “close partner,” not an enemy.

Pompeo also said Kim’s promise to dismantle a nuclear testing site as a show of good faith is “a good first step” toward the denuclearization that Trump is demanding.

“Kim understands this will have to be big and special,” Pompeo said. “If we can achieve a historic outcome, both sides have to come to play.”

If Trump can secure the “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea, then “private sector Americans” will begin to invest in North Korea and rebuild its economy, Pompeo said. That is what “the American people will offer in [denuclearization’s] place,” the secretary of state said.

On Friday, Pompeo said during a news conference that if “North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends. If Chairman Kim chooses the right path, there is a future brimming with peace and prosperity for the North Korean people.”

Although both countries were utterly devastated by the Korean War, which ended in 1953 with a cease-fire that remains in effect to this day, South Korea has since become one of the world’s leading economies, ranking as Asia’s fourth largest and the 11th largest among all nations. North Korea, by contrast, can hardly feed its own people.

Pompeo’s remarks may hint at Trump’s basic strategy in his dealings with North Korea, namely pointing to China’s decision in the decades following the death in 1976 of Chairman Mao to move toward a free market economically while preserving strongly centralized political power.

Trump’s promise in return for complete denuclearization to help North Korea follow the China model, as the U.S. did in many respects for China, while offering security promises to Kim that his political power will not be threatened, could be the key to understanding the North Korean dictator’s unexpected openness to American overtures.

Related: Trump’s Korea Miracle Meeting Set for Singapore

National security adviser John Bolton reiterated Pompeo’s assurances during an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” noting that North Korea’s economic prospects will be “unbelievably strong if they’ll commit to denuclearization.” Those prospects include allowing North Korea “to become a normal nation, to behave and interact with the rest of the world the way that South Korea does.”

“Clearly, the ballistic missiles program, as with Iran, with the intention of being a delivery system for nuclear weapons — that’s gotta go,” Bolton said. “I think we need to look at their chemical and biological weapons programs as well. The president’s going to raise other issues, the Japanese abductees, South Korean citizens who were kidnapped.”

Bolton said during a separate interview Sunday with ABC News’ “This Week” that Kim and his regime are choosing to make “a strategic decision that they will be better off without weapons of mass destruction.” and Trump’s meeting with Kim will allow the president to “size Kim Jong-un up and see whether the commitment [to denuclearization] is real.”

“I don’t think anybody believes you’re going to sign the complete ending of the nuclear program in one day. But we are also very much interested in operationalizing the commitment as quickly as possible.”

“I think it’s a question of what [Kim’s] prepared to do concretely and operationally,” Bolton said. “We want to see the denuclearization process so completely underway that it’s irreversible.”

Although Bolton said he remained optimistic about what the results of the Trump-Kim meeting would be, he still advised caution.

“I don’t think anybody believes you’re going to sign the complete ending of the nuclear program in one day. But we are also very much interested in operationalizing the commitment as quickly as possible.”

In the meantime, Trump remains “optimistic but realistic,” Bolton said.

“Nobody believes that this is easy to do. It’s going to require some discussion with North Korea. They’re going to have to reveal all of their locations. They’re going to have to allow open inspection,” Bolton said.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].