Pompeo says North Korea’s Kim ready to allow inspectors into nuclear, missile sites

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during Pompeo’s short visit to Pyongyang. (AFP/KCNA via KNS)
Updated 08 October 2018

Pompeo says North Korea’s Kim ready to allow inspectors into nuclear, missile sites

  • Pompeo said the inspectors would visit a missile engine test facility and the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site

SEOUL: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was ready to allow international inspectors into the North’s nuclear and missile testing sites, one of the main sticking points over an earlier denuclearization pledge.
Pompeo, who met Kim during a short trip to Pyongyang on Sunday, said the inspectors would visit a missile engine test facility and the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site as soon as the two sides agree on logistics.
“There’s a lot of logistics that will be required to execute that,” Pompeo told a news briefing in Seoul before leaving for Beijing.
The top US diplomat also said both sides were “pretty close” to agreement on the details of a second summit, which Kim proposed to US President Donald Trump in a letter last month.
Trump and Kim held a historic first summit in Singapore in June.
“Most importantly, both the leaders believe there’s real progress that can be made, substantive progress that can be made at the next summit,” Pompeo said.
Stephen Biegun, new US nuclear envoy who was accompanying the secretary, said he offered on Sunday to meet his counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, “as soon as possible” and they were in discussion over specific dates and location.
Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang, his fourth this year, followed a stalemate as North Korea resisted Washington’s demands for irreversible steps to give up its nuclear arsenal, including a complete inventory of its weapons and facilities.
He told South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday his latest trip to Pyongyang was “another step forward” to denuclearization but there are “many steps along the way.”

Inspection
At last month’s inter-Korean summit, the North expressed its willingness to close the Yongbyon nuclear complex if Washington takes corresponding action, which Moon said would include a declaration of an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
Pompeo declined to comment whether there was progress on a shutdown of the Yongbyon site.
Moon also said the North will “permanently dismantle” its missile engine testing site and launch platform in the northwestern town of Tongchang-ri in the presence of experts from “concerned countries.”
But Pyongyang failed to keep its pledge to allow international inspections of its demolition of the Punggye-ri site in May, fanning criticism that the move could be reversed.
In July, satellite imagery indicated the North has begun dismantling the engine test site in Tongchang-ri, but without allowing outsiders access for verification. And the Stimson Center’s 38 North said last week that no dismantling activity was spotted since Aug. 3.
Some experts say that opening the Tongchang-ri or Punggye-ri sites for inspection could be a goodwill gesture but has little significance in quickening denuclearization.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Kim had invited inspectors to visit the Punggye-ri nuclear test site to confirm it had been irreversibly dismantled. The statement did not provide further details.

Smiles, handshakes
In a more upbeat note, Pyongyang’s state media said on Monday Kim lauded his talks with Pompeo, where Kim “explained in detail the proposals for solving the denuclearization issue.”
“Kim Jong Un expressed satisfaction over the productive and wonderful talks with Mike Pompeo at which mutual stands were fully understood and opinions exchanged,” North Korean news agency KCNA said.
Kim said the bilateral dialogue would continue to develop “based on the deep confidence between the two leaders,” and expressed gratitude to Trump for making a sincere effort to implement the agreement made at their June summit, KCNA said.
KCNA also said the two sides agreed to hold working negotiations for the second summit as early as possible.
But it did not mention any inspection-related issue.
Commenting on Pompeo’s meeting with Kim, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Kim was expected to visit Russia soon. He said Chinese leader Xi Jinping was also expected to travel to North Korea but did not elaborate further.
North Korea’s state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, featured eight photos of the meeting on its front page, including shots of Kim and Pompeo smiling and shaking hands, as well as some with Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong.
North Korea denounced Pompeo on his previous trip to Pyongyang in July for making “gangster-like demands.” Pompeo did not meet Kim on that trip.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.