Mattis To North Korea: Get Rid Of Your Nukes Or You Get Nothing

news

SINGAPORE — North Korea will get relief from international sanctions only when it has shown irreversible moves toward denuclearization, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said ahead of a summit next week between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


Speaking Sunday in Singapore at the start of a meeting with the defense ministers of South Korea and Japan, Mattis warned that “we can anticipate at best a bumpy road to the negotiations.”

“As defense ministers we must maintain a strong, collaborative defensive stance so we enable our diplomats to negotiate from a calm position of strength in this critical time,” Mattis said. The ministers were in Singapore for the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, which brings together global defense officials.

He added that all United Nations Security Council resolutions on the regime must stay in place. “North Korea will receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization,” Mattis said.

Related: Did North Korea Actually Dismantle Its Nuclear Test Site? Experts Aren’t Convinced »

His comments came after Trump conceded that North Korea won’t agree immediately to give up its nuclear arsenal, and seemingly walked back expectations for a quick deal from his planned June 12 Singapore meeting with Kim.

Asked Friday about the vaunted “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions enacted to rein in North Korea, Trump said, “I don’t want to use that term. Because we’re getting along.”

The U.S. has previously insisted that North Korea give up all its weapons before it can shed its pariah status or get any relief from sanctions. North Korea has bristled at the idea, and it’s unclear if the two sides will be able to bridge their differences enough for the meeting to be deemed a success.

Meanwhile, North Korea moved to replace its defense minister ahead of the pivotal negotiations, Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported Sunday, citing people that it didn’t identify. No Kwang Chol, the head of the ruling Workers’ Party’s second economic committee, was chosen to replace Pak Yong Sik, who served as defense chief since May 2015.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told the Singapore forum Saturday he was aware of reports Trump no longer planned “maximum pressure” on North Korea.

“I know that President Trump has said he won’t lift sanctions until North Korea agrees to denuclearization,” Onodera said. “I understand that the pressure will remain in place.”

Japan has taken a cautious stance on the North Korea summit, concerned about easing pressure on a regime that only months ago was firing missiles over Japanese territory. Onodera warned against rewarding North Korea for “solely agreeing” to talks, and said Japan sought the removal of ballistic missiles of “all flight ranges” from North Korea.

The summit was resurrected after Trump called it off in a letter to Kim on May 24, complaining of “the tremendous anger and open hostility” in comments from North Korea. But he had also left the door open, writing, “If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.”

Trump’s talk now of an open-ended process is a jarring shift from the speedy outcome that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials demanded when the summit was in limbo. Trump didn’t say what he hopes to get out of the summit, nor did he talk about what the U.S. was prepared to give up, aside from musing about the possibility of a declaration ending the Korean War for good.

The task before Trump on June 12 is particularly difficult, since never before has a country with a nuclear program as advanced as Kim’s simply given it away.

“There is a risk that the process will break down and we can head back in the wrong direction,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “There is no precedent in nonproliferation history of disarming a nuclear program on this scale.”

———

©2018 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

WATCH NEXT:

U.S. Army Astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain is captured in this photo during a media opportunity while serving as backup crew for NASA Expedition 56 to the International Space Station May, 2018, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. (NASA photo)

NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.

Read More Show Less
New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen of the 24th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team (CST) and 106th Rescue Wing prepare to identify and classify several hazardous chemical and biological materials during a collective training event at the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Facility, New York, May 2, 2018. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Harley Jelis)

The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.

The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.

The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.

Read More Show Less
A U.S. Marine with Task Force Southwest observes Afghan National Army (ANA) 215th Corps soldiers move to the rally point to begin their training during a live-fire range at Camp Shorabak. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Luke Hoogendam)

By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?

Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.

Read More Show Less
The Topeka Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Public domain)

The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.

And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.

Read More Show Less
Jeannine Willard (Valencia County Detention Center)

A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.

Read More Show Less