Pompeo Says Trump Will ‘Walk Away’ if North Korea Deal Fails: ‘A Bad Deal Is Not an Option’

President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesd
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is prepared to “walk away” from negotiations with North Korea if dictator Kim Jong-un refuses to take “credible steps” towards the “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers Wednesday.

President Trump, who sold himself as a dealmaker on the campaign trail, has vowed not to settle for anything less than “full denuclearization.”

Echoing the commander-in-chief, Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee in written testimony:

Our top national security priority has been the de-nuclearization of Nort Korea. The maximum pressure campaign of diplomatic and economic sanctions is bearing fruit with the historic meeting set to take place on June 12th. This campaign has been undertaken in concert with an unprecedented number of allies and partners.

Our posture will not change until we see credible steps taken toward the complete, verifiable, and irreversible de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are clear-eyed about the regime’s history. It’s time to solve this once and for all. A bad deal is not an option. The American people are counting on us to get this right. If the right deal is not on the table, we will respectfully walk away.

Pompeo’s comments came ahead of the potentially unprecedented June 12 summit between President Trump and Kim that has been scheduled in the wake of the historic meeting between the two leaders of the Korean peninsula.

The American commander-in-chief is mainly expected to ask for “full denuclearization” in exchange for relief from international sanctions that have devastated North Korea and a U.S. promise not to invade.

While testifying, the secretary stressed that the Trump administration will keep the diplomatic and economic sanctions pressure on North Korea until the United States sees “credible steps taken toward the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

The State Department’s nearly $40 billion budget request for 2019 includes “$7.3 billion in security assistance [that] will help protect Americans at home and overseas,” the secretary told the lawmakers, adding:

The State Department will continue to lead international efforts to denuclearize North Korea and to prevent Iran and other actors from unlawfully acquiring weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery while strengthening the capacity of partner nations to do so as well.

Despite claims to the contrary by Trump critics who are intent on denying the president even the semblance of credit for the upcoming talks, Pompeo suggested the first meeting in history between a sitting American president and the leader of North Korea is still on.

This month, North Korea did threaten to pull out of the upcoming meeting over U.S.-South Korea military drills.


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