State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday that the Trump administration has no plans to use taxpayers’ dollars to rehabilitate the communist North Korean economy, a concern arising from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments that the United States is willing to help that economy grow.
In her regular press briefing, Nauert clarified that any aid to North Korea is contingent upon the rogue regime’s accepting “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Kim Jong-un agreed in a historic meeting with leftist South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month to “complete” denuclearization, but many North Korea experts suggest that North Korea defines “denuclearization” as the removal of U.S. nuclear assets from the region, not the dismantling of its own illegal nuclear program.
“I think one of the things that the Secretary had addressed with Chairman Kim is the idea that North Koreans could have a brighter future, and by a brighter future that means economic investment,” Nauert explained.
Asked if the United States would provide that sort of investment, Nauert clarified, “That does not mean – some news organizations misreported this – that does [not] mean U.S. tax dollars going to support the regime of Kim Jong-un, not at all.”
“That means if they denuclearize we could see – we could envision a future for North Korea where there’s private investment, where private money goes into North Korea, whether it’s building hotels or cinemas or whatever,” she continued. “That could be a future that North Korea could have, if they choose to denuclearize. And I think that’s an exciting opportunity. … Who doesn’t want a brighter future for their own people?”
Nauert emphasized that the economic support Pompeo suggested for North Korea would be “private investment.”
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in North Korea. Electricity is not readily available throughout large parts of that country. That’s one potential opportunity,” she offered as an example. “I’m sure there are very many U.S. corporations that would certainly welcome being involved in helping to bolster its infrastructure, whether it’s electricity, roads, or whatever. So that’s the incentive for the private sector.”
“Again, U.S. taxpayers would not be financing this,” Nauert reiterated. “We’re a long way off from that point, of course, because the country hasn’t denuclearized, but the point is we’re just talking about what could be a brighter future for that country and for its people.”
Nauert’s boss, Pompeo, has noted on several occasions that he believes North Korea would receive economic support from the United States in some capacity if it denuclearizes.
“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,” he said last week. In prior public appearances, he has emphasized that Washington will do nothing to help the communist regime of Kim Jong-un unless complete denuclearization occurred.
“We’re not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives,” he told reporters this month. “We are not going to do this in small increments, where the world is essentially coerced into relieving economic pressure.”
Under the Trump administration, the United States successfully convinced the government of China, North Korea’s largest trading partner and closest ally, to support United Nations sanctions on the country, bringing Pyongyang under unprecedented economic pressure. China’s support for sanctions brought about a rare condemnation from North Korean state media, which referred to Beijing as a “vassal force” of the United States masquerading as a “friendly” communist nation. China supported even more sanctions on the regime following that rebuke.
Since then, Chinese officials have protested that China has “mainly” paid the price of sanctions, as it boasts the closest economic ties to the country.
China has also repeatedly pressured the United States to invest money into North Korea, both through officials and its state media. The state-run Global Times newspaper demanded Washington pay Pyongyang “attractive rewards” in April for having even considered talks with the United States. A month later, Chinese officials signed a statement alongside Moon Jae-in demanding that “the international community, including the United States, must actively take part in ensuring a bright future for North Korea through a security guarantee and support for its economic development.”
North Korea sent a large delegation of mayors and other Communist officials to Beijing this week to observe the Chinese economy and study how best to transition out of full communism into a repressive autocracy that attracts foreign investment.
North Korea’s state media, which had substituted most of its anti-American vitriol in the past two weeks with anti-Japanese vitriol, recently began attacking the United States for allegedly planning the “ideological and cultural poisoning” of the Korean people through Hollywood and Western culture. North Korean state media have regularly warned citizens this week not to consume Western media – a crime in that country – and recently dismissed American free society as the world’s most “unpopular ruling system.”
Estimates for how much Korean unification will cost range from $2 to $5 billion.
Kim Jong-un is scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.