President Trump declared on Wednesday there was “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” — a dubious claim later tempered by his top diplomat.
Secretary of State Pompeo, in Seoul to debrief South Korean officials on Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, noted “there’s a lot of work left to do.”
Pompeo, offering a less enthusiastic interpretation and attempting to quell criticism that North Korea didn’t make any major concessions, cautioned that the U.S. would resume “war games” with South Korea if the North stops negotiating in good faith.
Trump’s sitdown with Kim in Singapore yielded a joint statement with vague promises to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
Earlier Wednesday, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said denuclearization would be a “step-by-step process” with “simultaneous action,” which contradicts the U.S. refusal to offer sanctions relief before Pyongyang begins dismantling its nuclear weapons.
Trump boasted that his historic face-to-face meeting with Kim has already made America, and the world, safer.
“Just landed — a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” Trump tweeted early Wednesday. “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
The Kim regime said last year that they have missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, and experts believe they have enough material for 20 to 60 nuclear bombs.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway scoffed when asked if Trump was jumping the gun by declaring victory.
“This President wants North Korea to completely denuclearize so obviously that has to be complete, verifiable and irreversible,” she said.
Pompeo predicted that it was possible for North Korea to take “major” nuclear disarmament steps within the next two years, before the end of Trump’s first term.
“We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in, what was it, the next two and a half years,” Pompeo said. “We’re hopeful we can get it done. There’s a lot of work left to do.”
Despite the lack of specifics in the document signed by Trump and Kim, Pompeo said he believes both sides understand what the next steps are and what’s at stake.
“I suppose we could argue semantics, but let me assure you it’s in the document,” he added. “I am confident that they understand what we’re prepared to do, the handful of things that we’re likely not prepared to do.”