U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with North Korean Vice Chairman of the Central Committee Kim Yong Chol in New York Thursday (local time) to discuss a possible summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pompeo said “real progress has been made” after long hours of discussion. “It will take bold leadership from Chairman Kim Jong Un if we are able to agree on a deal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” he added. “President Trump and I believe Chairman Kim is the kind of leader who can make those kinds of decisions, and that in the coming weeks and months, we will have the opportunity to test whether or not this is the case.” Pompeo said the North Korean official would travel to Washington Friday to deliver a personal letter from Kim Jong Un.
Observers said in a rare meeting in New York, top officials from the two countries have worked on finding a common ground on an approach to denuclearization between Washington’s all-in-one deal and Pyongyang’s phased disarmament. It is viewed that the two sides agreed mostly on pursuing a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and providing security guarantee in return. However, on the scope and the pace of denuclearization, they are still struggling to gain the upper hand. This is particularly true when Pompeo mentioned “bold decision” and “test in the coming weeks and months,” which call for North Korea’s complete nuclear disarmament. These remarks are interpreted as Washington’s asking for an immediate abandonment of North Korea’s nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles, which are to be shipped out of the rogue nation.
Pompeo emphasized that the United States would provide “the complete, verifiable and irreversible security guarantee in return for the regime’s initial fulfillment of the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization. He reassured North Korean leader Kim Jon Un that if the Trump administration can reach a nuclear deal with Kim, it might be submitted to the Senate as a treaty for ratification. This is intended to provide security guarantee to the regime regardless of U.S. presidential power change. For that, Kim Jong Un must cast away doubts about his commitment to denuclearization by implementing bold steps to dismantle his nuclear arsenal at the initial stage. Shipping his nuclear weapons out to the United States, in this regard, would be the requisite for his security guarantees.
Kim Jong Un seems hesitating. In a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kim said his will for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula still remained unchanged and consistent and fixed and hoped that negotiations on denuclearization would be conducted based on stage-by-stage solution by meeting the interests of each other. Kim showed gentle response to Trump’s abruptly decision to cancel a planned summit, but he still sticks to a phased approach to denuclearization. No matter how hard he tries to make pledges or hand off personal letters, this won’t make the world believe his authenticity. Taking the initiative in removing nuclear weapons will be an opportunity to demonstrate his authenticity and receive security guarantees that he wants so badly.