Jun 13, 2018, 1:19 PM ET

Pompeo insists North Korea agreement 'encompasses' verifiable, irreversible denuclearization

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is defending the agreement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong Un at the Singapore summit, insisting it “encompasses” ‘verifiable’ and ‘irreversible’ denuclearization, even though the document does not explicitly use those terms.

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The document calls only for “complete denuclearization,” sparking criticism the agreement was not specific enough to allow oversight of the denuclearization process.

“Let me assure you that ‘complete’ encompasses ‘verifiable’ in the minds of everyone concerned,” Pompeo told reporters in Seoul Wednesday. “One can’t completely denuclearize without validating, authenticating – you pick the word. The President is committed to that.”

When a reporter asked why the terms were not included in the statement, Pompeo replied “It’s in the statement. You’re just wrong about that.”

“I suppose you could argue semantics, but let me assure you that it’s in the document,” Pompeo continued.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump holds up a document signed by him and North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un following a signing ceremony at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump holds up a document signed by him and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un following a signing ceremony at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Pushing back even more against the question, Pompeo called it “insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous.”

“It’s a game. And one ought not play games with serious matters like this,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo said he is confident that North Korea understands there will be in-depth verification of the denuclearization process.

Pompeo did not want to outline a timeline for denuclearization, though both he and President Trump have called for “rapid” denuclearization in the past. Pompeo did say he hoped to achieve “major disarmament” during Trump’s first term, or in the next two and a half years.

About the so-called “war games,” as President Trump referred to military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea, Pompeo said the exercises will be suspended only as long as there are ongoing “productive, good-faith negotiations.”

“At the point it’s concluded that they’re not, the president’s commitment to not have those joint exercises take place will no longer be in effect,” Pompeo said, promising to resume exercises if the nuclear talks fall through.

PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) and North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) sign documents as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and the North Korean leaders sister Kim Yo Jong (L), in Singapore, June 12, 2018.Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (2nd L) sign documents as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) and the North Korean leader's sister Kim Yo Jong (L), in Singapore, June 12, 2018.

In terms of the immediate next steps, Pompeo said he is confident engagement with the North Koreans will begin within the “next week or so,” but he doesn’t know what form that engagement will take.

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  • Millard Farquar

    Can only hope this will eventually result in a better life for the NK people.

  • Thomas

    It would be nice if ABC were to publish a link to the text of this agreement. Then we can decide for ourselves what it says

  • jimrussell

    Sure they do, and orange pigs fly. At least Jong won something. Finally, the U S is back on top, while nothing else of any importance was achieved in the Singapore publicity stunt, the United States has proved when it comes to the worlds 2 biggest pathological proven serial lying leaders, our President makes Kim Jon Un look like Bob in the 1st
    grade reader. But Jong slightly bested Dumb Donny in the bad haircut contest.

  • Ptah

    Funny how the word verify nor verifiable does not appear in any of these documents. Yet Pompeo got upset when challenged, which is unusual for him. I guess his conscience is bothering him.

  • Armed and Psychotic Loner

    No mention of "verifiable," no promise of access for inspections, no deadline for denuclearization... but America's "provocative" military exercises will cease immediately. I think we can see who got played.

  • joe m

    Once a lunatic like trump gets embedded into a position, such as, POTUS, it's hard to dislodge them, even when most people see the dangers.

  • joe m

    If he could, KJU would nuke the U.S. into rubble. He said so in words and videos. Why would anyone trust this vile person?

  • George Columbo

    What rock are you under?

  • joe m

    The reason the U.S. is in a dictatorship is that trump lies just like a dictator, with reckless abandon. He just doesn't care. Every day it's a different story, just like most dictatorships.

  • Carp Bottomfeeder

    Pom peo the left hand, Tr ump the right, on a body of nothingness, meaningless bs that they want to just call foreign policy. Sickening.

  • joe m

    KJU disguises his true self behind that goofy smile and false laughter. Make no mistake, this guy is no friend of the U.S.

  • joe m

    Just seeing that KJU makes my blood run cold. He's the definition of evil.

  • joe m

    Those joint training exercises are vital to our troops readiness in Korea. trump should never have ended them. He's an idiot.

  • Furrmin The Cat

    If the black dude wants to talk to N. Korea he is a traitor. if the white dude wants to talk to N. Korea he is a hero.

    Hard to find a better example of rampant racism.

  • joe m

    The cold-blooded killer, KJU, made a fool of trump and U.S.A. Sad.

  • Ctrygrl

    Where precisely is that called out in what they signed?

  • UnaMasYup

    Every time you think someone with a brain and a soul has joined the Trump Cartel reality sets in. The last time I thought we were getting some stabilization was when John Kelly was added. That didn't last. Just a day or two ago I thought it might be Pompeo. Now he's proven insane. Mueller is the only thing that can save us from destruction.

  • Colinalcarz

    So we signed an agreement with NK and both of us can say it means whatever we want it to mean? Both “dear leaders” share the same expectation of intelligence on the part of their respective citizenry.

  • Abogado

    Even when they do something halfway decent ... they have to destroy it with exaggerated BS ...

  • E W

    Kim J destroyed the self-proclaimed greatest deal-maker. All he had to do was toss sociopath Trump a few compliments and it was game over. Useless "promise" with no timetable or verification. Our military gets throttled. And Kim, a guy who starves his own people and feeds relatives to the dogs, gets put on equal footing with the US. Im convinced that had Trump been president in WWII we would have been with Hitler.

  • RohnertPark1

    I wonder which 'anti-nuke' deal has more teeth, the one Obama negotiated with Iran or the piece of garbage Trump negotiated? Hmmmmm

  • tet1953

    This is what happens after you have decimated your state dept. A bunch of amateurs threw this together and were at the mercy of Trump's whims.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    Pompeo - Now are you beginning to understand why most people don't last long in the Trump WH? You look like the fool you are by trying to saying there are "ASSUMPTIONS' in something as criticand complex as denuclearization treaties. The same idiots who blasted the Iran treaty now aren't worried about the missing details in theres.

    Is there anyone with any sense at all in the dysfunctional Trump administration. If this really is a valid treaty, they are doing everything to can to scrooew it up.

  • whitepine

    Hillary was right Trump is just a puppet.

  • Your Worst Nightmare

    OMG, the imbeciles who used every missing word in the Iran treaty to say it was a bad, bad deal now are going to trust one of the most duplicitous regimes in history on something like verification by "assuming" of course they know.

    NK is already saying that Trump promised to lift the sanctions and these simpletons are not even doing the basics. This is why you must have pre-conditions BEFORE a summit. Here Trump is declaring victory and they don't have a single detail in this complex situation. Can anyone spell gross incompetence and that includes Pompeo because he is just covering for the head incompetent?

  • Lee Thompson

    NK may understand that denuclearization must be verifiable, Mr. Pompeo, but will NK agree to that?

  • Ordnry1

    Trump and Pompeo shouldn't play games with denuclearization of North Korea. 30 minute meeting between Trump and Kim is just a show.

  • JohnC

    I feel for Pompeo. This whole start with NK was a bit messed up and vague leaving everyone hoping the other guy is thinking as they are. What a mess. Hope they can still pull this off.

  • notagain

    NK's media, which is controlled by the state, would appear to disagree. They barely even mentioned denuclearization although they did gloat about getting Trump to stop the military exercises.