US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will leave for North Korea today to follow-up on the June 12 Singapore summit with North Korean leaders.
The trip comes amid doubts over Pyongyang’s commitment to nuclear disarmament after reports suggested the regime is upgrading its nuclear facilities.
Pompeo’s mission will likely seek full and independent verifications of steps towards nuclear disarmament in the Hermit Kingdom. National Security Adviser John Bolton has suggested a goal for full verification within 12 months. However, that requires the regime’s cooperation and there is no guarantee the North Koreans will give such concessions yet. Pyongyang has never agreed to such intrusive inspections before and 12 months is an optimistic—possibly unrealistic—timeline.
Regardless, Pompeo needs to come away from these talks with some kind of commitment that Pyongyang will follow through with its pledge to disarm its nuclear stockpile—doing so will appease an American public that’s growing suspect of rapprochement. Expect pressure to increase at Trump’s next (not yet scheduled) meeting with Kim Jong-un.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.