MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
JANUARY 5, 2021
QUESTION: You and President Trump have spent a fair amount of time on North Korea. Do you feel that there has been progress? I know there were some meetings, but do you feel that they have actually not moved forward with their nuclear program or are they actually in possession of more nuclear weapons than they were several years ago? And what progress do you think can realistically be made in the future there?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, that’s an important question. President Trump came in and recognized that one of the great challenges that we faced was a – the tension between the United States and North Korea. They had a real nuclear capacity when we took office. Over time, he came to believe that the best path forward was to begin a real conversation with them from the most senior levels. He had summits in Hanoi and in Singapore where Chairman Kim made the commitment that he would be part of a process that would denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Unfortunately, we have not achieved that yet. Chairman Kim has not yet made the decision that he is actually prepared to execute that, and so the challenges continue.
There are many, many actions taking – going on that I can’t say a whole lot more about. But we have convinced Chairman Kim at the very least, to date, since we began these conversations, not to continue to test his longest-range ballistic missiles, the ones that threaten the United States. We have convinced him not to continue to develop his nuclear capability by testing a nuclear weapons system, something that you know, David, that testing is required to continue to advance programs that are at a low level of maturity. All of those things are true. We’ve got about 70 North Korean remains – U.S. servicemember remains transferred back to the United States. I’m proud of that. I am hopeful that one day, Chairman Kim will come to recognize what President Trump told him repeatedly, is that the North Korean people would be far better off, that they could have a brighter future if they would acknowledge that this nuclear program that they possess is actually the thing that presents risk to the people of North Korea. It’s not something that deters a threat from the United States, who poses no real threat to the North Korean people. [Full Text]