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Congressman Joaquin Castro

Representing the 20th District of Texas

Castro Q&A With State Department Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

May 23, 2018
Press Release

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, had the following question and answer session with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing today on strengthening American diplomacy and reviewing the State Department’s budget, operations, and policy priorities:

Rep. Castro: “Is the North Korea Summit going to happen or not?”

Secretary Pompeo: “So that decision will ultimately be up to Chairman Kim.”

Rep. Castro: “So the President…”

Secretary Pompeo: “Yes, he asked for the meeting. The President agreed to meet with him. I’m very hopeful that that meeting will take place.”

Rep. Castro: “You’ve been to North Korea twice and met with North Korean leaders to lay the groundwork for the nuclear agreement with Kim Jong Un. How do you define the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula?”

Secretary Pompeo: “Well, we’ve, we’ve said complete.”

Rep. Castro: “What does that mean?”

Secretary Pompeo: “So there are multiple, multiple components of their system that would, that threatens America. This would include their weapons capability, their missile capability, the technology that goes with that, so engines and systems association—associated with space-launch vehicles, in addition to the missile programs. And then everything that is upstream from that including the production of fissile material, the technology that permits the capacity to produce that material, and all of the engineering and R&D connected to that.”

Rep. Castro: “Will you leave them with a civilian nuclear program?”

Secretary Pompeo: “We’ve, we have said that it won’t be appropriate for them to have the capacity to enrich. We have not—I, I, I’ll say it this way, I can’t answer that question. I am not in a position that I can answer that question for you today.”

Rep. Castro: “How will you move out the nuclear material?”

Secretary Pompeo: “Well there will be long, hard discussions about how the verification of that work will go. It is one of the most difficult verification programs that will ever have been undertaken. We have large teams already at work preparing in the eventuality that we are successful in negotiation so that we can achieve that. It’ll take many, it’s a long, hard process. It won’t be just America, and there will be other partners that will participate in it as well.”

Rep. Castro: “Would that, would you suspect that would include Russia?”

Secretary Pompeo: “I don’t know if it will include the Russians or not. It certainly would include the IAEA and others that have tremendous capacity and expertise in this area.”

Rep. Castro: “One of the things that has hurt this Administration is that on any controversial issue of foreign policy, and domestic policy often, but on foreign policy, you often get two or three or four different answers depending on who you are speaking to in the Administration. That was certainly true when your predecessor, Rex Tillerson, was Secretary of State. So let me ask you: who was in charge of these negotiations? Is it you? Or Mr. Bolton?”

Secretary Pompeo: “President Trump.”

Rep. Castro: “And who is going to lead up the team?”

Secretary Pompeo: “I will.”

Rep. Castro: “How many members are on the team and who is on the team?”

Secretary Pompeo: “I’m not going to go into details of, of how the team is being built out. There are different teams working. There are lots of teams at work across all of the United States government. Several within the State Department, a number in the Department of Energy, Department of Defense. There are many folks. Folks within the National Security Council.

“There are large teams working not only on, I think your question was with respect to the negotiation, but there are lots of teams preparing for every element of our work on North Korea. The existing pressure campaign, which continues, our work to ensure that we’re working alongside of our allies the Republic of Korea, Japan, and China to make sure that we are connected with them in developing a comprehensive strategy. There’s a lot of focus on this summit—there’s a lot of work to do.”

Rep. Castro: “Well let me ask you, I know and I appreciate that. Let me ask you, I talked about getting different answers on very controversial and important and consequential issues.

“We saw a prime example of that the other day in the middle of a press conference when Mr. Bolton talked about the Libya Model, which Secretary Mattis has also mentioned before, and President Trump corrected him live on camera it seemed like. So let me ask you since you are leading up the team. Which approach do you take? Are you pursuing the Libya Model that Mr. Bolton has mentioned? Or do you think that’s not appropriate here, as Mr. Trump has indicated?”

Secretary Pompeo: “I don’t think there is the distinction that you draw. The, the model that we have laid forth is a rapid denuclearization, total and complete. It won’t be extended over time. I think when Ambassador Bolton was speaking about this, although obviously you’d be better to ask him. What I think he was speaking of was a comprehensive denuclearization that didn’t take place in exchange—in exchanges that worked along the way, slow year’s long process where in exchange for ‘act x’, the United States sends a check across the transom.”

Rep. Castro: “Well does that include—“

Secretary Pompeo: “I think what he’s saying is that’s not our model and it is indeed not our model.”

Rep. Castro: “Does that include helping to remove him two or three or four, five years later?”

Secretary Pompeo: “We are focused on denuclearization. The President has made clear that we are prepared to provide security assurances in exchange if we can get America’s interests safe and secure. We’re prepared to do a great deal to ensure that we get that.”

Rep. Castro: “Thank you. I yield back.”

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