Interviewer: Tatsuya Tokiyoshi
The visit by [Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director and secretary of state nominee] Mike Pompeo to North Korea suggests that working-level consultations toward a bilateral summit have advanced to a certain level. The main purpose of the trip was probably to confirm how serious North Korea is about denuclearizing, including verifying reports received indirectly from China and South Korea.
Notable among recent movements surrounding the North Korea issue are the negotiations among various nations’ intelligence agencies. The CIA led the U.S. efforts rather than former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was cautious about slipshod negotiations, and this likely led to the visit by Pompeo. During the era of the Obama administration as well, it was Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who visited North Korea. This shows that the U.S. and North Korea have more channels of communication than previously imagined.
At a public hearing after his visit to North Korea, Pompeo said he is confident about the denuclearization negotiations. The trip was viewed as having borne at least enough fruit that President Trump can emphasize results as he heads into the summit.
The detailed agenda for the U.S.-DPRK summit will likely be formed based on the results of the Japan-U.S. summit underway now and the inter-Korea summit to take place at the end of the month. In terms of the Japan-U.S. summit, all eyes will be on whether the joint statement mentions not only intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which are of concern to the United States, but also intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which are a threat to Japan.
The inter-Korea summit will discuss “declaring the end of the Korean War.” Both nations want to make the summit the first “milestone” in advancing bilateral negotiations. The fruits of the summit discussions will also be reflected in the North Korean meeting with the United States, which was a party in the Korean Armistice Agreement.