On Wednesday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. Leading the committee was Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Patrick Lehay (D-VT).
As to be expected Pompeo was asked several questions about North Korea and denuclearization.
He explained to the panel that he was “not prepared to talk about details of the discussions,” that are taking place with North Korea. He explained he feels it would be “inappropriate,” and “counterproductive to achieving the end state that we’re hoping to achieve.” He adds, “we have been pretty unambiguous,” in our talks with North Korea.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asks about returning remains of missing soldiers, and if that process has begun.
Pompeo answers, “No. We have not yet received any remains.”
Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana) asks if North Korea does not commit to verifiable and irreversible denuclearization “are you willing to walk away from the negotiating table?”
Pompeo answers, “Yes, the President has made that very clear.”
Senator Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD) mentions a new report by 38 North, that states based on satellite images, there has been “Infrastructure Improvements at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility.” Senator Van Hollen cities the Wall Street Journal article that appeared in Wednesday’s paper. The senator moves on understanding that Pompeo can’t answer to the validity of the report in an open setting, he asks Pompeo, “You agree that North Korea still poses a nuclear threat?” Pompeo answers quickly that “Yes,” he agrees. The Senator than brings up the below tweet.
Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
Pompeo explains that what the President meant by the tweet was that we “reduced the threat, North Korea poses.”
Of Note: In an exchange with Senator Dick Durbin speaking about NATO and thoughts about Russia, and the President’s statement that Russia be allowed back into the G7, Pompeo says, “I think this administration has been unambiguously tough on Russia, it’s indisputable.”