(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday the administration would like Congress to “have a say” in any nuclear agreement reached with North Korea, contrasting that approach to what he called the Obama administration’s “flimsy piece of paper” – apparently a reference to the Iran nuclear deal.
Briefing reporters at the White House on next week’s summit with Kim Jong Un, Pompeo also countered the notion that President Trump will not be adequately prepared when he meets with the North Korean dictator in Singapore, even as he stressed that Trump’s
And he reiterated that the administration’s goal in talks with Pyongyang remains a “complete, verifiable and irreversible” end to its nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs, making clear that sanctions will remain in place until that objective is achieved.
“The president recognizes that North Korea has great potential and he looks forward to a day when sanctions on the DPRK can begin to be removed,” he said, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s formal name.
“However, that cannot happen until the DPRK completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
The reference to congressional involvement in any deal came after a reporter asked Pompeo how Kim could be assured that any security guarantees given by Trump would survive a change of president in Washington. “When new administrations come in, they can undo things that prior administrations have done,” she observed.
Pompeo said in reply the U.S. was “going to have to do things that convince” Kim that an agreement would endure.
By way of example, he continued, “we are hopeful that we will put ourselves in a position where we can do something the previous administration didn’t do, right? They signed a flimsy piece of paper, and we’re hoping to submit a document that Congress would also have a say in.”
Doing so, Pompeo continued, “would give currency and strength and elongation to the process, so that when administrations do change, as they inevitably do, and this one will – six and half years from now – when that takes place, that Chairman Kim will have comfort that American policy will continue down the same path, on the course that we hope we’re able to set in Singapore.”
Pompeo did not say directly that the administration would seek a treaty with North Korea. Its predecessor deliberately avoided doing so in its negotiations with Iran, with then-Secretary of State John Kerry saying at the time it had not pursued a treaty because “you can’t pass a treaty anymore.”
In the end the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded between Iran, the U.S. and five other countries, was an inter-governmental agreement that was not formally signed by anybody.
In ensuring that outcome, the administration bypassed the constitutional requirement of Senate advice and consent.
Congress did seek a say on the JCPOA in 2015, but in the form of a resolution of disapproval. In a series of votes all but four Senate Democrats blocked attempts to advance it. The controversial deal took effect the following January, and Trump last month withdrew from it.
Earlier Thursday, Trump raised eyebrows when he appeared to downplay the importance of preparation ahead of the summit with Kim.
Speaking alongside visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he said he was “very well prepared” but then added, “I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”
“This isn’t a question of preparation,” Trump said. “It’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen. And we’ll know that very quickly.”
Asked about those remarks, Pompeo first contrasted Trump’s “fundamentally different” approach to those of previous administrations: “In the past, there have been months and months of detailed negotiations, and it got nowhere.”
Moments later he returned to the issue, however, discounting concerns that the president was not fully engaged or prepared for his encounter with Kim.
In his previous role as CIA Director, Pompeo recalled, “there were few days that I left the Oval Office after having briefed the president that we didn’t talk about North Korea.”
“So over months and months, days and days, President Trump has been receiving briefings on this issue, about the military aspects of it, the commercial, economic aspects of it, the history of the relationship.
“And in the past few months, there have been near-daily briefings, including today, where we have been providing the president all the information that he needs,” he said. “And I am very confident that the president will be fully prepared when he meets with his North Korean counterpart.”
In other remarks, Pompeo dismissed as fiction and “a complete joke” reports of a feud between himself and National Security Advisor John Bolton over the approach towards North Korea.
“I’ll be polite, since I’m a diplomat now,” he said. “Suffice to say, those articles are unfounded and a complete joke.”
Pompeo acknowledged that he and Bolton “won’t always agree” but that Trump demands that each provides their views.