Pompeo: U.S. Has Technology To Safely Dispose Of North Korean Nuclear Program

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Speaking at a press conference ahead of a US-North Korea summit in Singapore, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US delegation includes "dozens of Ph.D.s who possess the technical expertise needed to understand and safely dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"North Korea has previously confirmed to us its willingness to denuclearize, and we are eager to see if those words are sincere," Pompeo said. "The fact that our two leaders are sitting down face to face is a sign of the enormous potential to accomplish something that will immensely benefit both of our people and the rest of the world."

Pompeo said that "any suggestion that the United States summits lacks the technical expertise across government or lacks it on the ground here in Singapore is mistaken."





"These experts include dozens of Ph.D.s who have expertise in nuclear weapons, the fuel cycle, missiles, chemical and biological weapons. They have advanced degrees in nuclear engineering, physics, chemistry, aerospace, biology and other relevant fields. On the ground in Singapore we have a team that includes the president's senior-most expert in weapons of mass destruction, who can cover any technical needs that the meetings may present," he said.

"We are prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization isn't something that ends badly for them," he also said. "Indeed, just the opposite: that it leads to a brighter, better future for the North Korea people."

SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: Good afternoon. I want to give an update in advance of President Trump's summit with Chairman Kim Jong-un.

As the president said on Saturday, this is truly a mission of peace.

This afternoon the president called Prime Minister Abe of Japan and President Moon of South Korea. Earlier today, our ambassador, Sung Kim, led a delegation to meet with Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui and his North Korean -- or excuse me, and her North Korean delegation.

The talks continue this afternoon even was we sit here now. They're, in fact, moving quite rapidly, and we anticipate they will come to their logical conclusion even more quickly than we had anticipated.

Before discussing the summit I want to address a report in The New York Times that suggested that the U.S. team lacks the technical expertise on dismantling North Korea's weapons program as part of these talks. I want to address that report directly.

For over three months an interagency working group of over a hundred experts across the government has met multiple times per week to address technical and logistical issues associated with dismantling North Korea's weapons programs.

They include experts from the military charged with dismantling nuclear weapons; the Department of Energy, including Ph.D.s and experts from DOE labs; and officials from the intelligence community covering North Korea.

Those same experts also cover North Korea's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs. These experts include dozens of Ph.D.s who have expertise in nuclear weapons, the fuel cycle, missiles, chemical and biological weapons. They have advanced degrees in nuclear engineering, physics, chemistry, aerospace, biology and other relevant fields.

On the ground in Singapore we have a team that includes the president's senior-most expert in weapons of mass destruction, who can cover any technical needs that the meetings may present. Any suggestion that the United States summits lacks the technical expertise across government or lacks it on the ground here in Singapore is mistaken.

North Korea has previously confirmed to us its willingness to denuclearize and we're eagle to -- eager to see if those words prove sincere. The fact that our two leaders are sitting down face-to-face is a sign of the enormous potential to accomplish something that will immensely benefit both of our peoples and the entire world.

President Trump believes that Kim Jong-un has an unprecedented opportunity to change the trajectory of our relationship and bring peace and prosperity to his country.

We are hopeful this summit will help set the conditions for future productive talks. In light of how many flimsy agreements the United States has made in previous years, this president will ensure that no potential agreement will fail to adequately address the North Korean threat.

The ultimate objective we seek from diplomacy with North Korea has not changed: A complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept. Sanctions will remain until North Korea completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programs.

If diplomacy does not move in the right direction -- and we are hopeful that it will continue to do so -- those measures will increase.

President Trump recognizes Chairman Kim's desire for security and is prepared to ensure that a North Korea free of weapons of mass destruction is also a secure North Korea. The president also expressed his openness to expanding access to foreign investment and other economic opportunities for North Korea if they take the right steps.

All the preparations for the summit have come together very nicely.

The president met this afternoon with Minister Lee of Singapore. It was an important opportunity to thank the prime minister of Singapore for his partnership in helping make this summit a reality. Singapore's home to over 4,000 American companies and has -- is a longstanding commercial partner, and we thank them for their help in making this summit what it is.

The president also had a chance to visit with our embassy team here in Singapore and thanked them for their tireless work to make this summit a success. For example, at tomorrow's summit there will be some 5,000 members of the media from all over the world that will be covering this historic event.

President Trump is going into this meeting with confidence and a positive attitude and eagerness for real progress. He has made it clear that if Kim Jong-un denuclearizes, there is a brighter future for North Korea. Tomorrow, we will get our clearest indication to date of whether Chairman Kim Jong-un truly shares this vision.

I'm happy to take a couple questions.SANDERS: (Inaudible).

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) denuclearize the peninsula. Is that a change in your position?

POMPEO: There's no shift in the policy.

It -- it is the case that we are prepared to make security assurances necessary for the North Koreans to engage in that denuclearization. That is, we're prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization isn't something that ends badly for them. Indeed, just the opposite: that it leads to a brighter, better future for the North Korea people.

SANDERS: Major Garrett, CBS?

QUESTION: Following about that point, Mr. Secretary, under the umbrella of security assurances, would that include removing U.S. forces now in South Korea? Is that something you're prepared to discuss with the North Koreans directly?

POMPEO: I -- I'm not going to get into any of the details of the discussions that we've had today. We'll -- I can only say this: We're prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique than have been provided -- that America's been willing to provide previously. We think this is both necessary and appropriate.

QUESTION: Would it be erroneous to assume that that's not on the table?

POMPEO: You -- you shouldn't assume from the fact that I don't give any detail here today that some question you posited has any merit.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

POMPEO: Yes, you should just not -- you should just -- if you hypothesize something that's in it and I refuse to tell you what's in it, you should assume that I'm simply refusing to tell you what's in it, and not drawing any conclusions from the negative inference that I think you're suggesting.

You should -- you should know we're -- there's going to be a lot of work left to do. There -- there's a lot of detail that's got to be provided.

We are not going to conduct these negotiations in the open with the media. We're going to conduct them between the two parties, so that we have an opportunity to have a real success here.

SANDERS: (inaudible), Wall Street Journal?

QUESTION: (inaudible), Mr. Secretary.

Mr. Secretary, (OFF-MIKE) what the U.S. expects from the North in terms of denuclearization, but sometimes there's been a suggestion from a North Korean official that their concept of the denuclearization (inaudible) the deployment of (inaudible). Is this something that the Trump administration would be willing to discuss or is it something we can rule out?

And (inaudible) dating 12 or 13 years ago about denuclearization (inaudible)?

POMPEO: So I think the first part of your question is the same question Major Garrett asked. It was a substantive question about what one side or that other may be prepared to do, and I'm simply not going to speak to that.

With respect to the second question, the context for these discussions is radically different than ever before. The backdrop against which these negotiations are taking, President Trump has set in a way that is fundamentally different than before.

President's made very clear: Until such time as we get the outcome that we're demanding, economic relief is not going to be provided. That's different. There was always this hypothesis that somewhere along the way, the Americans would take their foot off and allow those economic opportunities for the North, and thereby reduce the capacity to actually achieve the deal. We're not going to do that.POMPEO: So these discussions that'll take place tomorrow between Chairman Kim and President Trump will set the framework for the hard work that will follow. And we'll see how far we get. But I am very optimistic that we will have a successful outcome from tomorrow's meeting between these two leaders.

It's the case, in each of those two countries, there are only two people that can make decisions of this magnitude, and those two people are going to be sitting in a room together tomorrow.

SANDERS: (inaudible)?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the president says he'll know within a minute whether Kim is serious based on his feel. These are obviously incredibly complex nuclear issues that have tens of millions of civilians in the crosshairs. Is it wise for the president to be going on his gut? And have you established any specific criteria for the conditions that lead him to walk out tomorrow?

POMPEO: The president's fully prepared for the meeting tomorrow. I have personally had the opportunity to make sure that he's had a chance to hear lots of different voices, all of the attendant opportunities and risks, and that we have -- we have put -- put these two leaders in the right place.

As -- as I said in answer to the previous question, President Trump has truly laid out a process here that is fundamentally different than the ones that we've gone through before, and I expect that the process from tomorrow forward will also be fundamentally different, with a resolved America working to try and provide an outcome that benefits both countries. That's different than what we've done before.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SANDERS: (inaudible)?

POMPEO: Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Thank you.

Secretary Pompeo, (inaudible) with two questions. (inaudible) with a -- a White House press briefing room and Pentagon (inaudible) ask you a question, and a question (inaudible) whether or not, or how can you trust the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un? And (inaudible) satisfied with your answer (inaudible) this time.

But I also want to put the question, if I may, Mr. Secretary, how can Kim Jong-un trust the United States? And I say that (inaudible) the G-7 summit, when many leaders at G-7 believe that the leadership of the United States cannot be trusted as (inaudible) what happened with the communique.

So perhaps you can answer both of those questions.

Thank you.

POMPEO: I'll take your second one first.

I think the hypothesis is ludicrous. The -- the United States has been fooled before. There's no doubt about it. Many presidents previously have signed off on pieces of paper, only to find that the North Koreans either didn't promise what we thought they had, or actually reneged on their promises.

The "V" matters. The -- the "V" matters. We -- we are going to ensure that we set up a system sufficiently robust that we're able to verify these outcomes. And it's only once the "V" happens that we'll proceed apace, right? That's -- that's what's been missed before. You know, we can go back to Reagan: "Trust but verify."POMPEO: At the end of the day, both countries are going to have to come to have sufficient trust in each other, and to do the verification that each country needs that we've provided the things that are called for, that we commit to in the various documents that we sign, both tomorrow, if we sign a document, and if we sign subsequent documents. But we'll each have to ensure that we do the things, we take the actions necessary to follow through on those commitments. And when we do, we'll have a verified deal. And if we can get that far, we will have had a historic change here in Southeast Asia, North Asia and all around the world.

SANDERS: We'll take one last question.

Phil Rucker, Washington Post?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, this morning (inaudible) President Trump had harsh words for Prime Minister Trudeau, and (inaudible) as the country's top diplomat (inaudible) repair relationships (inaudible) allies, closest allies in Europe? And do you agree with the statement made by a number of (inaudible) colleagues yesterday there's a special place in Hell for the Canadian prime minister?

POMPEO: Well, I came here today here in Singapore to talk about North Korea, but I'm -- but I'm happy to talk about work with our European partners as well.

We wouldn't be in this place, we wouldn't have this historic opportunity without the diplomatic work that's been done by our European partners alongside of us.

President Trump has led an enormous coalition, including those very same European partners, those G-7 partners to which you refer, who have helped us get to this point. I have every expectation that they will continue to do that.

There are always irritants in relationships. I am very confident that relationships between our countries -- the United States and those G-7 countries will continue to be -- a move forward on a strong basis.

I -- I'm unconcerned about our capacity to continue to do what we need to do to get the outcome we're looking for in North Korea as a result of what you described having taken place in Canada.

QUESTION: (Inaudible).

SANDERS: Thank you.

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