Mnuchin: NKorean Sanctions Are Staying On; Defense Posture Is Staying the Same

By Melanie Arter | March 12, 2018 | 12:34 PM EDT

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Screenshot)

( – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that despite President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, the administration is not removing its “maximum pressure campaign.”

Asked to respond to calls from some in the media who say the U.S. is rewarding North Korea despite its role in the death of Otto Warmbier, threats to Guam, and launching multiple missile tests, Shah said, “Well obviously there’s a lot of issues here, but I do find it amusing that the president has been criticized over the last year for being too aggressive, and many people said he should be using diplomacy.

“So now we have a situation where the president is using diplomacy, but we’re not removing the maximum pressure campaign. That’s the big difference here. The sanctions are staying on. The defense posture is staying the same as it is, so the president is going to sit down and see if he can cut a deal,” he added.

Shah said the president has been very clear on what his objective is: to get rid of nuclear weapons in North Korea. He said their year-long “maximum pressure campaign” has been “very effective” and that “sanctions has been a big part of that.”

Shah said North Korean sanctions were what brought them to the table and that the administration has imposed more sanctions during the Trump presidency than in the last 10 years.

“We’ve done more sanctions this year than the entire last ten years, and there is no question these sanctions are working and that’s what brought him to the table,” Shah said.

When asked whether there are concrete actions that North Korea has met for the meeting to take place, Mnuchin said, “There’s no nuclear testing, and there’s no missiles. And those will be a condition through the meeting.”

Asked whether he feels “comfortable” elevating Kim Jong-Un to this status, Mnuchin said, “This isn’t about elevating anybody. This is about -- the president has been very clear that he wants to do everything possible to protect America and its allies, that the existing situation of testing nuclear weapons and missiles is completely unacceptable.

“I’ve sat in multiple tri-lat meetings with Japan and South Korea with the president. He’s been very clear. He’s spoken to all the allies including NATO. We’ve had more UN resolutions than any before, so I think this is a very clear strategy that’s working,” Mnuchin added.


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