The Impossible State Podcast: Episode 8: Grinding It Out
July 31, 2018
H. ANDREW SCHWARTZ: North Korea is the impossible state. It’s a place that’s stumped leaders and policymakers for more than three decades.
REPORTER: (From recording.) The images seem to show North Korea has started dismantling a key facility at a missile engine testing site.
SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: (From recording.) We’ve seen the open press reporting about the missile engine test site. It’d be entirely consistent with the commitment that Chairman Kim made to President Trump.
MR. SCHWARTZ: It has a complex history and it has become the United States’ top national security priority.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: (From recording.) We’re joined today by many incredible veterans of the Korean War. As you may know, we’re also working to bring back the remains of your brothers in arms.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): (From recording.) Mr. President, North Korea is playing the same old game with you they played with every other president. You need to make sure that China and North Korea know and believes that you’re different.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Each week on this show we’ll talk with the people who know the most about North Korea: CSIS’s Victor Cha, Mike Green, and Sue Mi Terry.
In this episode of The Impossible State, we’re talking with Victor Cha and Sue Mi Terry here in the CSIS studio. And we have with us, calling in from South Korea, Jonathan Cheng, the Seoul bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.
Jonathan, welcome from Seoul, South Korea, where we understand you’re having a bit of a heat wave.
JONATHAN CHENG: We are, indeed. It’s been relentless. And we look forward to a little bit of rain. We hear you guys are getting the rain in Washington, but we could use a little bit here, because it’s just been unbearable.
MR. SCHWARTZ: We’ll try to send it your way. We’re so glad you could join us today, give us a view from Seoul. Here in the United States today Secretary Pompeo has been summoned up to the Hill to talk about what Donald Trump said in his meeting with Kim Jong-un, and also what Donald Trump said in his meeting with Vladimir Putin. I don’t think we thought anything could push North Korea out of the news until we had the Helsinki summit. But it did, and North Korea’s been on the backburner a little bit. But today Pompeo is going to hopefully shed some light on that meeting.
MR. CHENG: I’m looking forward to it. (Laughter.)
MR. SCHWARTZ: Victor, what do you think he’s going to say?
VICTOR CHA: Well, I’m sure he’s going to say that although it’s rainy in Washington, there’s no rain on the diplomacy with North Korea, that all things are moving ahead. There’ll probably be some sort of activity on the return of POW/MIA remains, which the North Koreans promised in the June summit. And then the most recent news has been this taking down of the missile test site – the missile launch site in Sohae, which, you know, again, is another part of the deliverables that President Trump will claim is a big part of what they have been doing in implementing the June Singapore summit. So, again, while it’s rainy and stormy here, I think he’s going to paint a very sunny picture of the diplomacy.
SUE MI TERRY: But I think he’s going to be asked – because there was an intelligence community assessment that came out that this dismantlement of the liquid propellent engine testing in Sohae is reversible. This – and it does not – it does not really cap further production of additional missiles. So while this is certainly making progress, I don’t think we should over-exaggerate that this some sort of a big deliverable.
MR. SCHWARTZ: But it is progress.
MS. TERRY: Yeah, it is a progress because at least North Korea is doing something.
MR. SCHWARTZ: And, Jonathan, what are people in Seoul saying about it?
MR. CHENG: Well, I think people here are definitely urging patience, very much in line with the President Donald Trump’s relatively new tune here. Ahead of Singapore he was talking about how he wouldn’t really tolerate anything short of complete denuclearization. And afterwards we’ve heard him saying: Look, this is going to take some time. We don’t have a timeline on this. This is a difficult issue. There are a lot of scientific hurdles, a lot of other things that need to happen. And that actually aligns him quite closely with what Moon Jae-in has been saying, which is, look, this is – this is a journey. This is not going to be easy. We’re going to have rebuild trust because we haven’t had trust in decades. And so you sort of have everyone singing from the same hymnal right now, because Moon and Trump’s interests are aligned, at least for now, on this. And you could argue Kim’s as well, in terms of wanting to keep the mood music nice, without having to have any side give up anything too big right now that might disturb the balance.
MR. SCHWARTZ: President Trump and President Moon probably have the best relationship that Trump has with any foreign leader, it seems like. What do you hear about that in Seoul?
MR. CHENG: Well, it’s really up-ended the usual political calculus here and the political spectrum. You have folks on the right who are betrayed by these actions. They feel like Trump has basically thrown human rights out the window, thrown CVID – the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization and dismantlement – out the window. That he’s basically yielding to Kim.
And then you have folks on the left who are thrilled. They never thought that Donald Trump would be the guy who would put them this close to a peace declaration, end the Korean War, to pulling, you know, the joint military exercises with South Korea, to even talking about pulling out U.S. troops from the peninsula. So it is a bit of a topsy-turvy environment right now. And, you know, we’ve had a lot of twists and turns over the past two years, so I wouldn’t say that this will necessarily be the status quo that we tunnel down into. But it has been the status quo for the last few weeks. And it feels a little odd, but we’ll see where things go.
MR. CHA: Yeah, I mean, the interesting thing, when you compare the discussion that Jonathan described in Seoul with what’s happening in Washington, is that there’s so much skepticism, certainly not from the White House but from pretty much everybody else in the policy community. A great deal of skepticism about, you know, what was agreed to in Singapore, whether we’re actually going to have a real denuclearization process, because what we’ve seen thus far is basically little chips that the North Koreans have thrown on the table – returning 50 POW/MIA remains, right, taking down Sohae, the launch site for the last ballistic missile. And of course, that is something that Trump welcomes because that site that they’re taking down was a site at which the North Koreans fired the three-stage satellite launch vehicle in 2012 that submarined the Obama-era so-called Leap Day deal agreement. So politically even there it’s just fantastic for Trump.
MR. SCHWARTZ: It’s symbolic.
MR. CHA: It’s symbolic. It’s very symbolic. And it gives him a lot of ammunition to say how great he is compared to previous presidents.
But, you know, the problem, as all of us have said from the very beginning, if we’re really going to have a serious denuclearization process it has to start with the North Korean commitment to a full and complete verifiable declaration of everything that they have, because you cannot have a denuclearization negotiation with the North Koreans over things that they do not acknowledge having, right? This was the problem we had in 2007, the last time we did this. And, again, we are at this point where the North Koreans are putting small pieces on the table that Trump can claim as a victory, but we are not starting – we have not yet started. At least publicly, it doesn’t appear that we have actually started a denuclearization negotiation.
MS. TERRY: But, of course, North Korea is pushing towards some sort of peace declaration and hopefully trying to secure a peace treaty from Washington before they begin the process of denuclearization. This is what was evidently clear with the Singapore declaration, with just the wording, the way they worded it. I mean, peace regime talk came before that third point about working towards denuclearization. And so I feel like there is a momentum towards at least making peace declaration, that’s different from peace treaty. And I think, for example, on the liberation day, President Moon is going to probably make a speech, or something like that, Kim Jong-un will too. So I think there’s a momentum towards trying to at least get a peace declaration out of Washington.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Jonathan, are you feeling momentum where you stand?
MR. CHENG: Well, I mean, just picking up on what Sue was saying, we do have a bunch of those key calendar dates coming up. On Friday we have the 65 th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. Then on August the 15th, we have the anniversary of Japan’s surrender and the liberation of Korea. And then you have September 9th, which is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK. And, you know, each of these dates gives some of these players an opportunity to make some sort of a statement to try and advance their own interests. And so we may see some of that as soon as Friday. Whether or not we get the first returns of the U.S. war remains, whether we get some sort of a statement from either of the Koreas with regards to peace in the Korean War, you may see a move like that take place.
And, you know, one thing I thought that was interesting is you had the Defense Ministry here in Seoul talk about pulling back soldiers from the DMZ, from these frontline positions as a trust-building measure, to build in the April 27th Panmunjom Declaration, where the two Koreas agreed that they’d be deescalating military postures in places like this. And so even when things appear to be a little bit stuck, you can see that Moon is still nudging things ahead. And what’s interesting too is the backdrop of this is that Moon’s, you know, nearly gravity-defying approval ratings now finally seem to be sagging a bit.
And, you know, with – it’s interesting to see whether or not people are running out patience – running out of patience here with this détente, whether Moon’s move to try to remove troops from the DMZ might be seen as a way to keep things going because you have Pyongyang also trying to say, look, we need to see more progress on inter-Korean right now, even though the U.S. is saying we need to see more progress from you on denuclearization. So there are a lot of dynamics going on here. Even though it’s out of the headlines, it is an interesting jockeying for position behind the scenes.
MR. CHA: Yeah, I mean, it is interesting. Moon was somewhere in the 80s, right – mid or high 80s. And he’s now down into the 60s, Jonathan, is that right, in terms of the popularity?
MR. CHENG: Yeah, right, according to the latest poll.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Why is he dropping?
MS. TERRY: Isn’t that has to do more with domestic reasons, like raising the minimum wage, which was controversial. There’s a refugee crisis going on in the Jeju Island. I thought it had more to do with domestic reasons, rather than North Korea. The public more or less supports this engagement policy with North Korea.
MR. CHENG: No, that’s a fair point. And, as you know, with these approval ratings, first of all, they take them every week. So they can be volatile, and they can, you know, obviously have a margin of error. Also, we don’t really know the reason for all of these shifts. But definitely I should have mentioned what Sue did just mention, which is, yes, there are domestic politics at play here, as there always are, but particularly strongly of late.
MR. CHA: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s right. There’s also – you know, in Korea you can – you know, when you’re on top, the only place you can go is down. (Laughter.) And, you know, he had very high popularity ratings, and then in the spring they had these incredibly successful – his party, incredibly successful mayor and gubernatorial elections. So you can only ride the political high for so long in Korea. (Laughs.) Eventually you come off.
MR. SCHWARTZ: And 60s – being in the 60s is still pretty good.
MR. CHA: Yeah. I think most political leaders would take being in the 60s. (Laughs.)
MR. SCHWARTZ: Absolutely. Just ask Congress and President Trump.
MR. CHA: That’s right. (Laughter.) But I think, you know, Jonathan’s right on this – on these – you know, we have these landmark dates that are coming up. And, you know, I think the North Koreans are very good at pegging things to these dates. And the first of these is this Friday, which is the anniversary of the armistice. And if Sue is – and I think she’s right – if Sue is correct in saying that the North Koreans and the South Koreans are pushing towards some sort of peace or end of war declaration, then it wouldn’t surprise me if the North Koreans turned over the first set of POW/MIA remains, you know, towards the end of this week, somewhere around that date, that would provide a good, convenient issue around which to put this issue of an end of war declaration on the table. I don’t think they’re going to return all of the remains, because there are other things the North Koreans want in return for those – in return for those remains. But they may see it as in their interest to try to put this forward tactically now, to try to get this discussion of a peace declaration or end of the war on the table.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Well, so this brings us to what does North Korea want from the United States? And what does North Korea want from South Korea? Earlier this week, CNN reported that continued negotiations between the United States and North Korea hinge on Washington’s willingness to make a bold move and agree to a peace treaty with Pyongyang. And that was according to a North Korean official. So what exactly do they want from us at this early stage, when they haven’t done very much to show – they’ve done a little bit to show good faith, but not very much, as you guys have pointed out.
MR. CHA: When I listen to and watch carefully how Pompeo describes the talks, and what we hear otherwise, I mean, it’s – there’s a lot that’s different about what we’re seeing now, you know, under the Trump administration in terms of the Singapore summit, and what you could characterize as a series of confidence-building measures on both sides, right, taking down Sohae, right, providing remains, no more testing, we suspend exercises. These are not part of a denuclearization negotiation, but they are arguably part of a confidence-building process, a CBM process, right, before a negotiation.
But as much as certain things look different, when we talk about what is being discussed on the nuclear issue, it is incredibly similar to what we saw 10 years ago, what we saw 20 years ago during the Clinton era and during the Bush era, in the sense that, as you described, Andrew, North Korea wants the United States to make a bold move first, before they discuss denuclearization. This is what, in the olden days, we called the sequencing problem, right? Is it denuclearization first, as the United States insisted? Or is it, remove all your sanctions, right, sign a peace treaty, start talking about withdrawing forces from the peninsula, and then maybe we can start talking about denuclearization.
Now, of course, both of those are two extremes that neither side would accept. And so where we ended up in the past was so-called action for action. You know, now the North Koreans are using the term synchronous, I think, action for action. You know, you do a little bit on sanctions. We’ll do a little bit on denuclearization, that sort of thing. But – and so what’s disappointing about all that is despite the fact that we had this high-level intervention – the highest-level intervention between the two leaders, when they actually sit down to do the talks about the real meat of the issue – not the CBMs on the side but the real meat of the issue – what’s coming out of the North Koreans mouths sounds, you know, very depressingly and unfortunately surprisingly the same as what they’ve said in the past.
MR. SCHWARTZ: On the establishment of a legally binding peace treaty, that’s not something that President Trump can even do unilaterally. He needs two-thirds of the Senate. So it’s a complex thing to get done.
MS. TERRY: Right. I think that is the North’s ultimate goal, as Victor talked about. I think that always has been North Korea’s ultimate goal. And I think this time around unlike the past, I think North Korea is sensing maybe that this is still possible under the Trump administration. But at least the beginning step is getting peace declaration. So and this is also what South Koreans are supporting. This is why I say I think August 15 th, the liberation day, President Moon’s going to probably give a very stirring speech. And I’m afraid that the momentum is on the North Korean side to at least get a peace declaration.
Just another day to keep in mind is in early September, I thought Russia was holding the fourth Eastern Economic Forum, right, where Putin’s hosting that. I think Xi Jinping is invited. Maybe he will be there. Abe will be there. Who knows, maybe Kim Jong-un will also visit. And I just – I just feel like regionally it’s also supported by South Korea. At least we’re going to get peace declaration sometime soon.
MR. CHA: And if you also throw in there U-N-G-A, UNGA, in September.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Right. And we’ve been talking about, is Kim Jong-un going to come to the UNGA, which would be, of course, unprecedented.
MR. CHA: Yes. It would be unprecedented. I mean, I think Guterres wants to invite him. I mean, he doesn’t need to be invited, but wants to invite him maybe to even not just attend, but actually address the U.N. General Assembly. That would be one of those high-profile, you know, major historic events, again, where the entire world will be watching. And, you know, frankly, I don’t think Donald Trump can resist something like that. He’d want to be there too and have his second meeting with the North Korean leader. And, you know, again, for these things to happen there needs to be some progress. And you know, I think, you know, the news most likely that is going to come out, you know, this week is on the POW/MIA remains. And then, you know, taking down the Sohae – the satellite launch site.
You know, you put these things together and, you know, people who are in favor of pushing the negotiations forward – like President Moon and President Trump – can claim there’s progress here. We’re making progress. And so that justifies suspending the exercises that were to take place in August, the U.S.-ROK joint exercises that were supposed to take place in August. Those will remain suspended. And then we start rolling into September, where you have all these other events that, you know, would be seen, at least from the two administrations, Seoul and Washington’s perspective, as another opportunity for a high-level interaction that can help push the process forward even more. You know, trying to socialize the North Korean leader even more.
Using international relations theory – I apologize in advance – (laughter) – but we’re trying to create audience costs for the North Korean leader, an isolated person who never had audience costs before. And you know, so they can make a very credible argument internally and however the need to make that argument that we need to do these things to keep this process going, and to invest the North Korean leader more in the process.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Jonathan, in the course of your reporting what are you hearing, if anything, about Kim Jong-un coming to the United States, to the U.N. General Assembly in September?
MR. CHENG: Well, to be honest, there hasn’t been too much in the way of specific chatter yet. It is still a little bit away on the horizon. I think you’ve got a lot in between that could happen in terms of whether or not, you know, the good mood continues here. And I think it has been helped by the fact that Trump has been willing to overlook some of the more ominous news – like the fact that the remains haven’t been returned, like the fact that Yongbyon is still expanding, like the fact that this missile facility in Hamhung are still expanding. You know, you – as long as you keep this going, I think that’s fine.
I don’t know you might look at that all-caps tweet from Trump towards Iran. You could say, OK, so maybe he’s turning his focus to Iran because things aren’t going well with North Korea. But at least he didn’t tweet that at Kim Jong-un, or something like that. But maybe that’s a prelude to more, I don’t know, bellicosity of lack of patience with progress on these fronts. So we’ll have to see. I mean, one point I wanted to make is just what Victor was saying earlier about, you know, the confidence building measures and sequencing and some of these other points.
One thing I thought was quite interesting was after Pompeo came out of Pyongyang earlier this month, you had North Korea kind of turn the tables. If you recall after June 12th in Singapore, when Donald Trump announced that they were going to cancel the exercise he got a lot of heat from it – for doing that from the U.S., saying why did you just do that without any sort of concessions?
But then after the Pompeo meeting you had North Korea say, well, look, what we’ve done is irreversible. So we need a lot of credit for what we’ve done in Punggye-ri, pulling up our underground nuclear test site. And maybe what they’ll soon say, look, we’re taking apart our Sohae rocket launch site as well. These are irreversible actions. What you’ve done is very reversible. You’ve done, you know, a joint military exercise cancellation that you could resume again.
So I think you really have both sides trying to claim credit and get sort of the moral high ground here, because I think they probably want it in the bank for when things maybe turn sour, that they can say, look, we were acting in good faith, you guys weren’t.
MR. CHA: I mean, if we take the narrative that Jonathan just put forward, and you put that in the lap of the South Korean government, this – particularly this progressive South Korean government – they would probably not disagree with that. They would probably say, look, decommissioning the nuclear test site, taking down the Sohae satellite launch site, I mean, these are the things that the Americans wanted, right? These are the things that they wanted. And these are things the North Koreans have never done before. And they’re important, significant actions. So the United States needs to – you know, needs to really play ball, needs to be more flexible.
From the perspective – and I don’t want to sound curmudgeonly, but I know Sue will agree with me – from the perspective of people here in Washington, those are important steps but thus far nothing has been verified by an outside authority, right? No action has been – all – when we – the news that we hear of the Sohae satellite launch test site being taken down is largely coming from overhead commercial satellite imagery, right? There is no inspector from the IAEA or anywhere else on the ground, either at Punggye-ri, where they had the nuclear test site, or here at Sohae, that is confirming or verifying anything, right?
And so – but the point is, that this can – these sorts of things, even though they’re steps forward in the diplomacy, can create fissures between the United States and South Korea. And they probably are creating fissures, you know, behind closed doors between the two sides because the South Koreans probably have a lot more confidence in this process than everybody else on the U.S. side, with the exception possibly being the president.
MS. TERRY: I’m not sure if South Korea has confidence in this process. I think South Korea is – has no choice or feels like it has to exude confidence versus actually having confidence. But this Sohae site is reversable. I think that is the IC judgement. Also, North Korea has been making progress towards solid fuel rockets, so it has less use for the liquid fuel facilities. So you can make an argument that, yeah, this looks like a concession of sorts, but it’s still a cosmetic concession. We’re not really seeing active steps towards denuclearization.
MR. SCHWARTZ: How are we ever going to know, unless we are able to get more serious verification? Commercial satellites aren’t going to do it for us.
MR. CHA: No. No. I mean, you have to have – I mean, in the past what we’ve had is IAEA inspectors on the ground, experts, people who have been in North Korea before, who have been in these facilities before, on the ground actually doing this. And my understanding is the IAEA has been preparing and prepositioning to be ready to go in once an agreement is reached. But, you know, the North Koreans appear not to be interested in doing this, and instead, you know, are putting on the table these things that are very enticing for the administration. Again, if you think about this particular satellite launch site – and, I mean, Jonathan, you know this well – I mean, this is – like, this is tailormade for President Trump because it’s the three-stage missile. It’s the one that blew up the Obama agreement. I mean, this is, like, tailormade for the politics of the diplomacy, right?
And so, you know, I mean, North Koreans are not stupid. I think they’ve thought about all this, and they’ve thought about what they’re going to put on the table. The other thing is that, you know, clearly the focus has been on things that bother the United States, right? The nuclear weapons, the long-range ballistic missiles. And clearly, not things that bother some of our allies, like Japan, which are the deployed short- and medium-range missiles, not these prototypes that they have been – they have been testing. And so that also could have the impact of sort of dividing the United States from its alliance network.
MS. TERRY: Yeah. President Trump tweeted that Japan is very happy, and the region is very happy, and that he is very happy with the progress that we’re seeing. (Laughter.) So when Trump himself, president of the United States, says that he’s very happy with the progress, what incentive does North Korea truly have to do more than this?
MR. SCHWARTZ: Right. And what we ultimately want is IAEA inspectors on the ground. That would be universally recognized as a major step.
MR. CHA: Yeah. That would be. That would show that this is actually a serious denuclearization process rather than something that just looks like it’s fake – you know, fake diplomacy, yeah.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Cosmetic, yeah.
MR. CHENG: But, again, I think one thing – you know, I feel like, to answer your question from before, Andrew, how do we verify any of this. And one simple answer, to go back to Punggye-ri is we know that they’re doing this not because necessarily they want to denuclearize and give up all their nuclear weapons. It’s because Kim Jong-un said on April the 20th at a meeting of the party that they’re done with their nuclear program. There’s no need for the underground tests anymore. So let’s get rid of that test site.
If you look at Sohae, you can point to exactly what Sue was saying earlier, which is they don’t – it’s not that they don’t have any need for liquid fuel missiles anymore, but they’re very clearly moving in the direction of solid fuel missiles. It gives them more flexibility. It gives them more of an element of surprise. It’s what most of the more advanced missile arsenals in the world are based on anyways.
So if they’re moving in that direction to give up a legacy site like Sohae is not that big of a deal. So, again, if you pair that with an expansion at Yongbyon and an expansion in Hamhung, if indeed these are steps that North Korea’s taking, that’s not a good picture. That’s not steps towards denuclearization. That’s just steps towards modernizing their nuclear weapons force.
MR. CHA: Yeah. And then the other piece of the legacy on Sohae is not only are they moving from liquid to solid fuel propellent but, you know, they’ve also clearly demonstrated a road-mobile capability. So they don’t need static launch sites for these sorts of things anymore, which are actually – you know, static launch sites with liquid fuel are rendered very vulnerable to preemptive strikes, right, because we can see them fueling up the rocket and then, you know, that is a sitting duck for some sort of preemptive strike. So, you know, Jonathan and Sue are right on all these points.
And it reminds me a lot of what the North Korean did in June 2008, when they allowed the explosion of the iconic cooling tower at the Yongbyon five-megawatt reactor, the original nuclear reactor facility, this cooling tower that had been pictured on CNN and MSNBC as this sinister thing that was a part of the program. They allowed it to be blown up. And everybody thought – we all thought it was a big step in terms of CVID – you know, D being dismantlement of all their capabilities. And, lo and behold, a few years later, they start building new nuclear facilities and things directly on that site. So basically razed the land for them. (Laughter.) So that they could then build – you know, build new things on this – on this site.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Are people on Seoul skeptical of this, Jonathan?
MR. CHENG: Well, obviously, you have folks on the right who have traditionally been skeptical of any kind of attempt to engage with North Korean. They don’t think the North Koreans trustworthy, or that they’re sincere in anything that they really say or commit to. But you’ve really seen that percentage of the pie shrink. Certainly back in April when you had that handshake at Panmunjom, I think you had a lot of folks who were skeptical, but who were also willing to, you know, take a risk on a hail Mary, if that’s what it was, simply because 2017 was like looking over the edge.
And I think you’re starting to see some of those folks who may have given the benefit of the doubt starting to question whether or not they ought to have done so, or ought to continue doing so. And that may explain some of the poll numbers that we’re seeing for Moon, although as we noted the domestic issues are also at play here. Ultimately, it really is a question of how patient we’re willing to be with this process. It has been, what, six weeks since June the 12th. So you can either say that’s a very long time or you can say that’s a very short time.
But certainly as we get into August and as we move toward all of the events that we have in September, the anniversary of the founding of the DPRK, the Vladivostok meeting, and then the U.N. General Assembly. I think by that point if we’re still where we are now, you got to think that a lot of people are going to have given up or just, you know, presumed that North Korea wasn’t really sincere all along.
MR. CHA: Andrew, I know that you’re – you’ve got football players in your family. You know, the hail Mary analogy that Jonathan just used there – (laughter) – you know, yes. There’s the hail Mary pass, and then there’s the ground game. And, you know, dealing with North Korea is a ground game. It’s one yard at a time.
MR. SCHWARTZ: Grind it out.
MR. CHA: And then you grind it out. And it’s not pretty, right? You know, I think the president was, you know, unconventional and, in a sense, you know, willing to take a risk by sort of doing this high-level summit, and willing to say that he’s going to do more of these summit meetings. But, you know, we have to remember that those summit meetings are great, and they may make big statements. But in the end, somebody’s got to grind this out, right? And right now, it’s Secretary Pompeo. Somebody’s got to grind it out.
And it’s just the way the North Koreans negotiate. It’s never going to be easy. And everything has to be verified. And in the meantime, we shouldn’t be handing over, you know, more critical pieces of our alliance assets. You know, we’ve already handed over exercises. But we shouldn’t be handing over troops or anything else until we’re – until we’re really absolutely convinced that we are firmly down the path of some sort of – some sort of truly verifiable denuclearization.
MR. SCHWARTZ: And we’re pretty far from that.
MR. CHA: Oh, far from it.
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