Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to make his third trip to North Korea, apparently seeking a schedule for disarmament. Pyongyang has yet to declare a complete list of weapons, production facilities and missiles.
President Donald Trump's top diplomat has scheduled new talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House said Monday.
"To continue the ongoing and important work of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, Secretary Pompeo will be leaving for North Korea on July 5 to meet with the leader and the team," spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
"I think a number of things have happened. One, in the last eight months you haven't seen missile launches," she added, insisting that progress has been made.
However, three weeks after Trump met Kim in Singapore, there have been few results in terms of either a declaration of nuclear assets held by North Korea, or a schedule for dismantling them.
Pompeo is expected to present a demand for a full inventory of nuclear and missile programs and a schedule for them to be dismantled.
He is then expected to meet the Japanese and South Korean leaders in Tokyo after his meetings in North Korea to "continue consultations and implement the forward progress made by President Trump and Chairman Kim in Singapore."
The State Department said Pompeo would leave North Korea on Saturday for Tokyo and hold talks with Japanese and South Korean officials. A Japanese defense ministry official was cited by Reuters on Monday saying Lockheed Martin Corp would be supplying two Aegis Ashore batteries to upgrade its missile defense system, partly to protect against North Korea and China.
Pompeo would then move on to Hanoi for talks with the Vietnamese government, and then to Abu Dhabi before arriving in Brussels on July 10 for the two-day NATO summit, which Trump is also expected to attend.
Dismantle in a year — or ongoing program?
Over the weekend in the US, National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested Pompeo would be discussing with "the North Koreans in the near future, about, really, how to dismantle all of their W.M.D. [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile programs in a year."
However, there have been leaks of a US intelligence assessment suggesting that North Korea is continuing — and in some cases accelerating — work on its nuclear and missile programs.
The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported that a factory for solid fuel ballistic missiles in Hamhung had been expanded, using for its evidence satellite images analyzed by California's Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
jm/cmk (AP, Reuters)