High-level diplomacy and security officials of the Trump administration including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, nominee for U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell and commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea Robert Abrams announced Wednesday (local time) that they will continue to put the maximum pressure on North Korea during senate and house hearings.
Stilwell, the nominee to the top U.S. post for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the U.S. had been "fooled enough times" by North Korea and emphasized that the pressure on North Korea will continue. He said there should be no pulling back of sanctions until North Korea implements final, fully verified denuclearization. The nominee cited North Korea's nuclear and missile programs as the most urgent security challenge in the region.
"We have not yet seen them make the big move that we were frankly hoping that they would do in Hanoi," Pompeo said. He also insisted that the U.S. will continue to enforce those sanctions and encourage other nations to do so as well.
Abrams said that North Korean activity observed by the U.S. was “inconsistent with denuclearization,” and added that America’s surveillance capability may not be enough to detect aggressive activity of North Korea recurring on the Korean Peninsula should denuclearization talks halt.
Even though U.S. officials highlighted continued pressure on North Korea, some are concerned that their stance would be different from President Donald Trump, who recently tweeted about withdrawing additional sanctions on the North. Pompeo effectively admitted that the explanation of the White House was not true by saying, “As far as I remember, they were sanctions from the Treasury Department,” when asked if Trump discussed with him before tweeting about the additional sanction withdrawal.