Pence calls for deal on nuke declaration in 2nd U.S.-N. Korea summit
WASHINGTON, Kyodo - U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un must agree on a verifiable declaration by Pyongyang on its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in their second summit envisioned for early next year, Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday.
"I think it will be absolutely imperative in this next summit that we come away with a plan for identifying all of the weapons in question, identifying all the development sites, allowing for inspections of the sites and the plan for dismantling nuclear weapons," he said in an interview with NBC News.
Pence welcomed "tremendous progress" in bilateral negotiations so far -- North Korea's stoppage of missile testing and the return of U.S. hostages as well as the possible remains of American service members from the Korean War. But he added, "Now we need to see results."
North Korea postponed a meeting scheduled for last week in New York, in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was expected to press Kim's regime to list its nuclear weapons and related sites.
The vice president also said in the interview conducted in Singapore, where Trump and Kim met in June, that Washington will maintain its hardline pressure on Pyongyang by not lifting its sanctions.
"Until we have a plan that is implemented to achieve complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization, we're going to keep the pressure on," Pence said.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, said earlier this week that it has identified 13 of an estimated 20 missile operating bases that North Korea has not yet declared.
At a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae In in September, Kim pledged to dismantle North Korea's main nuclear complex in the country's northwest if the United States were to take unspecified reciprocal actions. Kim also vowed at the time to permanently close the North's key missile test site in the presence of international experts.
But he stopped short of meeting the U.S. demand for a full and honest declaration of his country's nuclear weapons program, including weapons and fissile materials, as a first concrete step toward denuclearization, or presenting a road map for that goal.
Pence is visiting Singapore to attend a summit between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit and related meetings. (Kyodo)