Weeks after Donald Trump declared the world a safer place following his historic summit with Kim Jong-un, Mike Pompeo is due to arrive in Pyongyang on Friday amid growing doubts over the regime’s willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons.
The secretary of state is expected to meet Kim in person in Pyongyang, according to the White House, though details of the agenda have not yet been released. Pompeo, on his third visit to the North Korean capital, is expected to press Kim on a recent report suggesting that far from beginning the process of denuclearisation, North Korea was making “rapid upgrades” to its Yongbyon nuclear complex.
Unnamed US intelligence officials also concluded that North Korea does not intend to completely give up its nuclear stockpile.
Pompeo will also use his visit to consult and reassure Washington’s allies in the region, with meetings planned with Japanese and South Korean officials in Tokyo on Sunday. Japan has voiced support for the leaders’ Singapore declaration, but reacted cautiously to Trump’s decision to cancel a joint US-South Korea military exercise scheduled for August.
Pompeo must establish how far North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes have advanced before US officials can even attempt to draw up a potential timeline for America’s central demand – their complete, irreversible and verifiable dismantlement [CVID].
At present, the US has no reliable information on where all of North Korea’s production and testing facilities are located or the size of its ballistic inventory.