U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that North Korea "probably" violated United Nations resolutions with its missile launches last month, but that it's important to focus on the ultimate goal of denuclearization.
The U.S. has sent mixed messages regarding the North's missile launches on May 9, with President Donald Trump saying he views them "differently" from his own national security adviser, John Bolton, who condemned them as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.
Trump has said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may have wanted to get attention by firing the short-range missiles following their no-deal summit in Vietnam in February.
"Yeah, well, probably -- they probably did violate the U.N. Security Council resolutions," Pompeo said in an interview with U.S.-based Sinclair Broadcast Group during a trip to Bern, Switzerland. "But what's most important about them -- again, we talk about a lot of times documents and what's really important is that the campaign that we've been engaged in -- we, not just the United States, but that the world has been engaged in -- ultimately delivers the outcome that we're looking for."
Trump and Kim held an unprecedented summit between the two countries in Singapore last June and agreed to work toward "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees for Pyongyang.
Progress has stalled amid an impasse over U.S. demands for complete denuclearization and North Korea's demands for sanctions relief.
Pompeo pointed to the importance of enforcing sanctions under the U.N. resolutions to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
"When President Trump talks about his relationship with Chairman Kim and we all work our way towards getting this outcome, we're enforcing these sanctions in ways that are incredibly important," he said. "We can demonstrate the progress that has been made on those things, that we welcome the support of Russia and China, Japan and South Korea on enforcement of those sanctions. Those are the things that really ultimately will lead us to a place ... which will ultimately lead us to a place where we have the hope that we can get the outcome that was set forth in Singapore."
Pompeo would not be drawn into a question about whether Kim has the legitimacy to govern the North Korean people, saying the nuclear threat is "very real" and calls for decisions that are different from how the U.S. labels the leaders of Syria or Venezuela.
"We're working to find a negotiated solution so that Kim Jong-un will honor the commitment that he made, the commitment he made to his own people and the commitment he made to President Trump in Singapore, to denuclearize his country," he said.
Pompeo described Kim as "rational" in the sense that he is "working diligently to deliver the outcomes that he has articulated."
But he also emphasized that the U.S. will need to see verifiable actions to support Kim's words.
"I think he is working his way towards making this different strategic decision where you can, in fact, have a brighter future for the North Korean people that President Trump has talked about so many times," Pompeo said.(Yonhap)