foreign policy

Pompeo Says North Korea Will Get Americans Instead of Aid

The secretary of State has been raising expectations of how great a deal North Korea is going to get. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared a broad outline of the Trump administration’s goals for the upcoming summit with North Korea during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. He also offered more details about what the U.S. was willing to give North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in exchange for “total, full, complete” denuclearization.

Pompeo pointed out that “we have our eyes wide open with respect to the fact that the North Koreans have not proved worthy of their promises” in the past, but that the Trump administration was not interested in pursuing a “traditional model” deal — which he defined as essentially paying the regime to do something. Instead, Pompeo claimed, “We’re hoping this will be bigger, different, faster.”

On Friday, Pompeo said that the U.S. was “prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends.” But prosperity doesn’t mean aid, apparently. When Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan mentioned National Security Adviser John Bolton’s contention, also on Sunday, that North Korea should not expect economic aid in the deal, Pompeo agreed. He then explained that instead of offering North Korea American aid, the Trump administration would offer it Americans:

What Chairman Kim will get from America is our finest. Our entrepreneurs. Our risk takers. Our capital providers. Not our taxpayers. They’ll get people. … They will get private capital that comes in. North Korea is desperately in need of energy support - electricity for their people. They are in great need of agricultural equipment and technology. The finest from the Midwest that I come from. We can deliver that. And as I said earlier this week, we can create conditions for real economic prosperity for the North Korean people that will rival that of the South, and that is our expectation. It won’t be U.S. taxpayers. It will be American know-how, knowledge entrepreneurs, and risk takers working alongside the North Korean people to create a robust economy.

In other words, Pompeo seems to be saying that if North Korea meets the conditions for sanctions to be dropped, the U.S. will offer business opportunities with American corporations instead of aid — apparently under the assumption that the country’s communist government will accept capitalism instead of cash.

In a similar appearance on Fox News Sunday, Pompeo additionally indicated that Trump was willing to take regime change off the table, acknowledging that “we will have to provide security assurances to be sure,” and further implying that President Trump is the first U.S. president to have earned the trust of North Korea’s leadership.

Pompeo explained, as Bolton has, that the U.S. was seeking “the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea,” though how that demand will be translated into a specific framework and process remains unclear. Pompeo also emphasized, however, that the president’s main objective was to prevent the risk of North Korea launching a nuclear weapon at the U.S. — which may or may not mean the U.S. is willing to accept a remaining risk for other, closer countries.

On Face the Nation, Pompeo said that Trump would offer North Korean “greatness” to Kim:

The president has a commitment and he will make this commitment to Chairman Kim, I am confident, that says: if you do the things we need to do so that America is no longer held at risk by your nuclear weapons arsenal and that you get rid of your [chemical and biological weapons] program and missiles that that threaten the world, we will ensure that your people have the opportunity for the greatness that I know Chairman Kim wants them to have.

“I think Chairman Kim shares the objectives with the American people, I am convinced of that,” Pompeo also insisted on Sunday. We’ll all find out when Trump, Kim, and South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, meet in Singapore on June 12.

Pompeo Says North Korea Will Get Americans Instead of Aid