State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters Tuesday that North Korea can expect “no surprises” in U.S. policy as delivered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his upcoming visit this week.
Nauert also refused to confirm any specific timeline for complete denuclearization of the rogue communist regime. National Security Advisor John Bolton said in an interview Sunday that he believes denuclearization is possible within one year if Pyongyang agrees to the process soon.
Nauert began answering questions about the current state of the relationship between the United States and North Korea by commending the “good spot” that relations had reached within a year. “A lot of people were in panic. A lot of people around the world were very concerned about what would happen between the United States and North Korea,” she noted. “And the fact that our Secretary is now getting ready to go and have his fourth meeting with the North Koreans in less than three months I think is a testament to just how far we’ve come.”
Nauert also confirmed that Pompeo has “at least a day and a half of meetings planned, depending on how the schedule goes” with the North Koreans. Noting that the Americans will negotiate “with their eyes wide open,” the spokeswoman did not specify what Pompeo will discuss with his North Korean counterparts other than an extension of what President Donald Trump discussed with dictator Kim Jong-un during their unprecedented meeting in Singapore on June 12.
“We’ve had very clear conversations with them,” Nauert added. “There will be no surprises in terms of what we are asking them to do. Our policy remains the same today as it was going into the Singapore summit.”
The Singapore summit concluded with a declaration signed by both heads of state that proclaimed North Korea “commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” North Korea has repeatedly demanded security guarantees in exchange for any denuclearization, arguing that the purpose of the Kim regime’s nuclear weapons program is to protect the communist dictatorship from a theoretical American attack. Prior to the summit, reports indicated that the United States would pressure Pyongyang into a commitment to complete, verifiable, and irreversible (CVID) denuclearization, the standard used to disarm Libya. Pressured by reporters about why “verifiable” and “irreversible” were not part of the Singapore declaration, an irritated Pompeo insisted that these demands were “in there” and that it was “silly” to ask why specific words were omitted.
Nauert similarly dodged a question on the specific timeline imposed on North Korea regarding getting rid of its illegal nuclear weapons program. On CBS’s Face the Nation this weekend, Bolton asserted that, if North Korea agreed, “we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year.”
“I’m sure that the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, will be discussing this with the North Koreans in the near future, about, really, how to dismantle all of their WMD and ballistic missile programs in a year,” Bolton added.
Nauert refused to address the timeline. “The Secretary has said – and he’s been very clear about this, and I know it’s much to your frustration – but we’re not going to get into all the details about the discussions that are taking place,” she told reporters. “In terms of a timeline, I know some individuals have given timelines. We’re not going to provide a timeline for that.”
Pompeo is expected to land in North Korea Thursday for meetings with high-ranking officials on how to move towards diminishing tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.