Pompeo’s dangerous remarksAhead of a second U.S.-North Korea summit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last Friday defined the safety of Americans as the final goal of denuclearizing North Korea. His remarks are raising concerns in several respects. First of all, they could signal a dangerous shift of the Trump administration’s North Korea policy from the “complete denuclearization” of the rogue state to the elimination of its ICBMs, which pose a direct security threat to the United States.
Pompeo underscored the need to achieve the final and complete denuclearization of North Korea following the controversial statement. But his remarks strongly suggest that Uncle Sam puts top priority on securing Americans’ safety rather than safeguarding its allies in Northeast Asia.
Security experts have persistently raised the suspicion that the Trump administration may attempt to wrap up the negotiations for denuclearization with the removal of the North’s ICMBs if it finds it difficult to accomplish complete denuclearization. If such expectations turn into reality, Seoul will be extremely vulnerable.
On Wednesday, the State Department decided to allow humanitarian aid to North Korea. That’s not all: in their fourth summit in Beijing last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and China’s President Xi Jinping re-emphasized the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” which includes a de facto pull-out of the U.S. troops and U.S. strategic assets from South Korea. As long as Beijing tries to back Pyongyang behind the scenes, North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons.
In a New Year’s address last Thursday, President Moon Jae-in announced that if complete denuclearization occurs and a permanent peace is settled, it will open a new era in which peace drives our prosperity. His remarks may reflect the significance of denuclearization for the future of the peninsula.
And yet, some members of the liberal group in South Korea are urging the Moon administration to ease sanctions before the denuclearization. For instance, Moon’s controversial special advisor on unification, diplomacy and security, Moon Chung-in, underscored the need to make an end-of-war declaration even before denuclearization. If such positions prevail in the government, no one knows what kind of announcements will be made in a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, which is expected to take place in either February or March. Our government must not surrender over the complete denuclearization of North Korea as our survival is at stake.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 14, Page 30