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Pompeo’s Dangerous North Korea Fabrications

The Secretary of State's fabrications are dangerous for a few reasons.
Mike Pompeo

Pompeo won’t stop lying about North Korea and what their government agreed to do:

Speaking at the end of a week-long visit to Europe, Mr. Pompeo stressed that Mr. Kim agreed to give up his nuclear arsenal nearly a year ago at the June 12 Singapore summit with Mr. Trump. “They need to do what Chairman Kim said that they would do,” the secretary of state said. “That’s been our posture since the beginning. We’re happy to talk about the best way to achieve that. We’re happy to talk about what the right tools and mechanisms are so we can facilitate that.”

Pompeo has been misrepresenting what happened at the Singapore summit ever since the summit ended. It is disturbing that he is still allowed to get away with telling such obvious whoppers to the press and the public. Kim did not agree to give up North Korea’s nuclear arsenal then or at any other time. He made no firm commitments to do much of anything at Singapore, and there were certainly no specific things that he agreed to do that he hasn’t done. The Trump administration has wasted the last year creating and perpetuating a lie about what took place at the first summit, and that has meant that they can’t possibly respond constructively to North Korea’s real position because the administration is so invested in maintaining the fiction about the position they made up for them.

The Secretary of State’s fabrications are dangerous for a few reasons. It is always risky for U.S. interests when our top officials insist on misleading and lying to the public about what they are doing and what other governments have committed to doing. In this case, the administration has been lying about what North Korea agreed to in order to make their unsuccessful pressure campaign seem at least slightly successful. That has trapped them into pretending that North Korea made commitments it never made, and that in turn has prevented them from adjusting their demands to match North Korea’s real position. If there was any possibility of reaching an agreement with North Korea, this combination of deceit and maximalism has killed it. After all, the North Koreans know what they did and didn’t agree to, and they aren’t going to be interested in negotiating with a government that continually misrepresents what they have said and done. This is not just a question of having different definitions of key terms. Even if both sides are using some terms to fudge some of the remaining gaps between their positions as they work towards a final agreement, there should be a clear understanding of what each side has promised to the other. To date, North Korea has not promised to give up its nuclear weapons in part or in their entirety, everyone involved knows they didn’t, and it is the height of diplomatic malpractice and folly for our top diplomat to keep telling everyone that they did. That can only serve to sow more distrust between our governments and pave the way for a new showdown in the coming year.



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