North Korean

Mike Pompeo Officially Elected Secretary of State


Mike Pompeo is the new Secretary of state just like Donald Trump desired, and the confirmation comes from the Senate. Pompeo, who has been the director of the CIA, received support from 57 senators while 42 voted against him, this is the slimmest margin for this position in the recent history. The last nominee who received a small number of votes was Rex Tillerson who got 56 and who was Trump’s first Secretary of State. Before him, ever since the Carter administration, every nominee received at least 85 votes or more.

When he was sworn by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito at the Supreme Court, Pompeo immediately went to Brussels for his first trip as Secretary of State. From there, he will go to the Middle East. Tillerson proved to be unfit for the job, and Mike Pompeo will have a demoralized State Department and the diplomatic corps. Tillerson left some of the most important positions vacant and kept cutting the budget as well as staff, and it will take some time for Pompeo to repair the damage.

For one moment, it seemed as if Pompeo would not be able to get a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he was cleared in the last minute when Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted for Pompeo. He will have a tumultuous beginning as the Secretary of States because not only does he need to fix things up, but he also faces major issues such as the Iran nuclear deal and Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Pompeo, who was the CIA director, received support from all the Republican senators and only six Democrats. GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona was absent because of cancer treatment, whereas the Democrats who voted for Pompeo come from states that lean towards conservatives and their names include Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. As a CIA director, Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-Un before North Korean leader meets with Trump. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn spoke of Pompeo: “He’s the perfect person to come in at this time and lead those efforts.”

While the Republicans are favoring Pompeo, his opponents have pointed out that he has hawkish foreign policy views, and he has made some negative comments against the Muslims and LGBTQ population in the past. During his confirmation hearing, Pompeo tried to soften such image, and it worked for him. He will officially become the new Secretary of State before May 12, which is Trump deadline for the Iran deal changes. If nothing is modified in that deal, Trump plans to withdraw from it and reintroduce the sanctions on Iran.

“If there’s no chance that we can fix it, I will recommend to the president that we work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and to achieve a better deal,” Pompeo said in his confirmation hearing earlier in April. We have already mentioned that Pompeo will go to the Middle East from Brussels, Belgium. There, he will visit Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, said the officials who preferred to remain anonymous.

While in the Middle East, new Secretary of State will discuss the Iran deal as well as the Syrian crisis, he will talk about strengthening the defenses of NATO in Europe. According to the official, the Russian aggression is increasing, and only six NATO allies are currently meeting the goals regarding their defenses. Nine members have provided plans to reach such goals by 2024, which is important, especially since Trump criticized the organization and its contribution. Pompeo will have a difficult job in the beginning, but he also has a chance to prove his worth.


The USA and North Korea – What does Denuclearization mean?


Next week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is going to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss different topics one of which is going to be denuclearization. This term has been in the media in recent weeks, and just like many, we are not sure what it means. Is it giving up on the nuclear weapons for? Or destroying all the weapons assembled so far? These are just some of the explanations of the term, but what is it that America wants North Korea to do exactly? The summit was planned, and US President Donald Trump is going to meet with Kim Jong-Un to discuss denuclearization, but America needs to show precise demands if they want the talks to be successful.

The reason why the meeting didn’t happen earlier is that North Korea wanted the US troops to withdraw from the region. But they do not anymore, and the summit will take place. Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said: “North Korea has been saying all the right things … they want this summit to occur, and they’re doing what it takes to make it happen.”

However, North Korea has been quiet, and Kim’s public statements were vague and not so promising. In Beijing, at the end of March, Kim Jong-Un said: “It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il.”
But are the three presidents have the same thing in mind when they talk about denuclearization?

The US and South Korea

For the United States and South Korea, denuclearization means only one thing. Josh Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “It’s called CVID — complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean program.” The word “irreversible” means that once the North Korean nuclear program is dismantled, it cannot be launched again. Moreover, this process needs to be under scrutiny and someone independent needs to oversee it. “Unless there is independent monitoring … any unilateral undertakings by the North Koreans will probably not be worth the paper they’re written on,” said Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM, and diplomat.

Two countries have advocated denuclearization of North Korea for decades, and this is the first time that some progress could be made. In 1991, Pyongyang joined Seoul and signed a “joint declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” After that, they requested international aid and promised to dismantle the program, but the words were all there was. After almost three decades, hope is rekindled, and this time it could be different. Even though we are doubtful that two sides have the same idea of denuclearization, Moon said: “I do not think there is any difference in the concept [between North and South Korea].”

North Korea

According to Xinhua, Chinese news, Kim Jong-Un didn’t speak of Pyongyang ending its program when he promised the talks in Beijing in March. He referred to “denuclearization on the (Korean) Peninsula.”

If you are still not sure what the difference is, Kim Jong-Un considers the denuclearization of the entire peninsula which means that both North and South Korea would have to give up on the nuclear program. They also consider the American presence on the South Korean soil to be the direct threat despite the fact that the US hasn’t installed any nuclear weapons since 1992. Pollack noted: “They really are threatened by superior American and South Korean military power, they need nuclear weapons to try and prevent an invasion in their view. They feel the need to equate their nuclear program with the (US and South Korean) military alliance and claims the military alliance is a nuclear threat, when there’s no real grounds for that.”

Pollack also made another interesting point that North Korean leader wants to create a gap between Washington and Seoul with his decision to discuss denuclearization. Pollack said: “The pessimistic interpretation is that Kim is intent on making concession after concession in private to show Moon that he is the reasonable one, with the expectation that Trump will ultimately be unable or unwilling to deliver.”

With this in mind, the dialogues would most likely be futile. The two sides have different views on denuclearization, and North Korea will not abandon its nuclear program while South Korea keeps developing it and the US forces stay in the region.