Secretary of State Mike Pompeo contradicted President Donald Trump on Wednesday when he said that North Korea still poses a nuclear threat, a direct departure from the president’s point of view following his meeting with Kim Jong Un earlier this month.
Pompeo said during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that he felt President Trump “intended” to say North Korea’s nuclear threat had been reduced, not fully eliminated.
“I’m confident what he intended there was, ‘We did reduce the threat,’” the secretary said, according to CNN. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We took the tension level down.”
President Trump declared that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat after his meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong Un on June 11.
“Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” the president wrote on Twitter. “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”
Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
The two leaders signed a document during the summit promising unspecified “security guarantees” to North Korea in exchange for a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
Trump was heavily criticized over the deal, with some lawmakers saying the agreement hurt the U.S. more than benefited it. It was also criticized for failing to outline specific plans for denuclearization.
Defense Secretary James Matthis said last week that the Pentagon was still beginning to process to assist North Korea, noting that he “wouldn’t expect” detailed negotiations to have started at this stage.
Satellite images published earlier this week indicated that, rather than scaling back nuclear technologies, North Korea had upgraded its main nuclear research facility, the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.