According to intelligence reports, North Korea has begun to dismantle its missile engine factory. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was sure to oversell the progress he tracked based on satellite imagery, but did express that it is a good sign to see some progress on the Korean Peninsula.
“I know the United States is tracking the disassembly of a missile engine test site,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. “They’re beginning to dismantle that. It has to do with their missile program. It’s a good thing. Steps forward.”
Following President Donald Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, many of Trump’s opponents called the meeting a waste of time and resources.
Tackling the North Korean threat has been no easy task, even after the Singapore summit. When Pompeo tried to schedule follow-up meetings with the North Koreans, they cancelled it.
According to the Washington Post, the North Koreans also began making demands for more money and refused to take down their missile-engine testing facility. The Post also reported that United States intelligence agencies have said that the North Koreans are attempting to conceal their continued nuclear weapon program. They also reported that when Pompeo went to North Korea on July 6, they refused to commit to a time table for denuclearization.
To all this reporting, Trump responded in a tweet Monday:
“A Rocket has not been launched by North Korea in 9 months. Likewise, no Nuclear Tests. Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy. But the Fake News is saying, without ever asking me (always anonymous sources), that I am angry because it is not going fast enough. Wrong, very happy!”
And based on Pompeo’s press conference, the North Koreans have in fact begun to denuclearize.
Pompeo made sure to explain that the dismantling of the facility “wasn’t in the written agreement [signed between North Korea and the United States in Singapore] itself, but Chairman Kim committed in his conversation with President Trump.”
President Trump, however, made clear even before the Singapore summit that he was willing to sit at the negotiating table if North Korea meets his very strict demands. If not, he was willing to leave the table just as quickly as he was ready to approach it. So far, his tactics have proven to be fruitful for the time being.