Pompeo: I Don’t Do ‘Navel Gazing’ — Trump Admin Has Its ‘Eyes Wide Open’ on North Korea

Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration “has its eyes wide open” when dealing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Partial transcript as follows:

KARL: So, that was obviously before John Bolton became national security adviser. He is now working on this meeting. But given all of the broken promises on the nuclear issue that we have seen under President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, three different North Korean leaders now, can you really trust anything that comes out of a meeting with Kim Jong-un?

POMPEO: Jonathan, this administration has its eyes wide open. We know the history. We know the risks. We’re going to be very different. We’re going to negotiate in a different way than has been done before. We’re going to require those steps – we use the word irreversible with great intention. We’re going to require those steps that demonstrate that denuclearization is going to be achieved. We’re not going to take promises. We’re not going to take words. We’re going to look for actions and deeds. And until such time, the president has made it incredibly clear we will keep the pressure campaign in place until we achieve that. That’s different. And so in each case, both countries will have to do more than words, will have to actually deliver an outcome that is the one that Kim Jong-un and I had the chance to talk about at the direction of the president.

KARL: So, you looked into his eyes, you spent an hour with him, you said it was a good conversation. The president said it was a good relationship that was developed. The president also called him a madman. And the president is not alone in calling Kim Jong-un a madman. How do you build a relationship with somebody who is seen as a madman?

POMPEO: You know, I’m not one to do much about navel gazing or eye staring. I’m looking for actions. And that’s what President Trump is asking for, too. We have built a coalition — a diplomatic coalition has come together to put pressure on Kim Jong-un. President Trump and that pressure campaign are the reasons Kim Jong-un want this meeting. It’s the objective of our administration to achieve the outcome. That — that’s what we’ll be looking for between the president and Kim Jong-un.

KARL: Did you think he’s really had a change of heart on this? I mean, if you look at Kim Jong-un this is somebody who assassinated his uncle right after coming into power, poisoned his half-brother, did more to advance North Korea’s nuclear facilities, its missile capabilities than his father, did more to advance the military than his grandfather. Do you really think that he has had a change of heart on this and he is ready to give up the pride of that country right now: its nuclear program?

POMPEO: Kim Jong-un’s going to have to make a decision. He’s going to have to make a big decision. Does he want the pressure campaign to continue? Does he want President Trump to continue to place him in the location that he finds himself today? Or is he looking for something big and bold and different, something that hasn’t happened before? I don’t know which way it will go. As the president has said, only time will tell. But we have a mission set, we have an obligation to engage in diplomatic discourse to try and find a peaceful solution so that Americans aren’t held at risk by Kim Jong-un and his nuclear arsenal. That’s the mission. That’s the goal. Only time will tell if we’re going to be able to achieve it.

KARL: And you have been clear this is complete irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear programs. Get rid of the nukes, get rid of the capabilities. Is he going to get anything in return before he does that? Is there any lifting, any easing of sanctions, any reward given before the total irreversible dismantling of that nuclear program?

POMPEO: Jonathan, the administration’s been very clear. We’ll see how the negotiations proceed, but we’re going to do it in a fundamentally different way than the previous efforts to persuade the North Koreans to get rid of their nuclear weapons program. We have — we have our eyes wide open, Jonathan.

KARL: But nothing before it is done? No partial steps?

POMPEO: Jonathan, we have our eyes wide open.

KARL: You were CIA director for 15 months. You had a sense of — you’ve seen all of the intelligence on this. You’ve seen the assessments. Are you confident that we truly know the extent of the North Korean nuclear program? Do we know where his bombs are? Do we know where all of his nuclear facilities are at this point?

POMPEO: Jonathan, I’m not going to go into any detail on that.

KARL: Well, I am just asking if you are confident in the assessment. I am asking you what the assessment is. Do you believe — because he has hidden nuclear capabilities in the past…

POMPEO: Jonathan, Jonathan, I’m not going to — I’m not going to talk about intelligence matters on the show this morning. I apologize for that. I just — you do understand that I simply can’t do that.

KARL: So, If diplomacy fails on this, is there a military option? Is there a realistic military option for getting rid of that nuclear program?

POMPEO: The president has been very clear, Jonathan. We’re not going to allow Kim Jong-un to continue to threaten America. We’re not going to let him develop a program such that Americans are held at risk.

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