North Korea has confirmed to the US its willingness to denuclearise, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said today, asserting that President Donald Trump will not stand by a "bad deal" in his summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore next week.
Any deal reached because of the meeting between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim would be brought before the Congress for its stamp of approval so that it cannot be reversed by any future administration, said Pompeo, who is spearheading the American efforts for talks with Pyongyang.
"The United States and North Korea have been holding direct talks in preparation for a summit, and North Korea has confirmed to us its willingness to denuclearise," he told reporters at a White House news conference.
Noting that a comprehensive whole-of-government effort in support of Trump's upcoming summit was underway, Pompeo said a White House and State Department-led advance teams were finalising logistical preparations and will remain in place in Singapore until the summit begins.
Trump continues to follow every development closely and is getting daily briefings from his national security team, he said.
The fact that the two leaders are coming to the table shows that they are very serious, Pompeo said, noting that the diplomatic model that they have used to date is different from past efforts.
The efforts give them hope that they can find real success where past efforts have fallen short, he added.
Pompeo said Trump was hopeful, but he is also going into the summit with his eyes wide open. "We've seen how many inadequate agreements have been struck in the past. You can be sure that President Trump will not stand for a bad deal," he said.
"The US has been clear, time and time again, that complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is the only outcome that we will find acceptable," Pompeo said.
Trump, he said, recognises that North Korea has great potential, and he looks forward to a day when sanctions on it can begin to be removed.
However, that cannot happen until the Pyongyang completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programs, he reiterated.
Pompeo said Trump and Kim will certainly also discuss security assurances for North Korea, establishing a peace regime and improving relations between the two countries.
"Until we achieve our goals, the measures that the world, alongside the US has put on the regime will remain. In the event diplomacy does not move in the right direction, these measures will increase. Throughout the entire process, the United States has been unified with Japan and South Korea in response to the threats from North Korea," he said.
Trump has been, and continues to be, committed to ridding the US and the world of threats posed by North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes, he said.
"These programmes threaten our homeland, our allies and partners, and the broader non-proliferation regime. North Korea's past activities also make clear that it is proliferation to other actors that creates a risk, in addition to the primary risks. It has supporting infrastructure that is also of concern," he said.
Pompeo, who has met Kim twice in the recent past, said the North Korean leader was very capable of articulating the things that he was prepared to do, presents clearly the challenges that they all have to overcome.
"It's why the two leaders are meeting. It's the opportunity to lay those out clearly between the two leaders so that we can see if we can find a path forward together that achieves the outcomes that both countries want," he said.
"He (Kim) has indicated to me, personally, that he is prepared to denuclearise; that he understands that the current model doesn't work, that he's prepared to denuclearise. He understands that we can't do it the way we've done it before -- that this has to be big and bold, and we have to agree to making major changes," he said.
"We can't step through this over years, but rather need to acknowledge it will take some amount of time, that this doesn't happen instantaneously. But that the model for succeeding -- security assurance; and political normalization; and denuclearisation completely, verifiably, and irreversibly -- for that to take place, we've got to make bold decisions," Pompeo said.
Leading the American efforts in negotiating with the North Koreans, he said the US is making progress, inch by inch. "We are going to travel there," the US Secretary of State said.
Asserting that the approach that Trump was taking is fundamentally different, the top American diplomat said in the past, there have been months and months of detailed negotiations, and it "got nowhere". "This has already driven us to a place we've not been able to achieve before," he said.
Pompeo said the Trump administration is hoping to submit a document that Congress would give currency and strength and elongation to the process, so that when administrations do change, as they inevitably do, Chairman Kim will have comfort that American policy will continue down the same path.