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FOREIGN MINISTER'S INTERVIEW WITH CNN(6. 14.)
FOREIGN MINISTER'S INTERVIEW WITH CNN (June 14th)
[CNN Amanpour] Foreign Minister Kang, welcome back to the program.
[Foreign Minister Kang] Thank you, Christine. It’s good to be with you again.
[CNN Amanpour] So, we have spoken several times. We have spoken before the summit. Can you in broad terms tell me how safe do you feel today?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I think we are feeling pretty good. I think the summit and the outcome in the larger scheme of things... if you at it from the seven decades of history on the Korean Peninsula, this is truly historic. It is a huge turning point, and I think we are deeply grateful for this to Mr. Trump, the President, my counterpart Mr. Pompeo, and of course, all of us who have worked towards the meeting and its outcome.
[CNN Amanpour] So, I wouldn’t push you on the statements by President Trump. Let me just read you the tweet he made as he landed after the summit. “Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong-un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has a great potential for the future!” And of course, we do remember that he said he has a great potential in terms of real estate. But, I want you to tell me. “North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.” Is that what you believe?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I think the fact is that they still have nuclear capabilities. But I think what he is saying is that we have made a huge step forward, huge strides towards eliminating that threat. So, yes, we are well on our way. But, the hard work of actually eliminating that lies before us.
[CNN Amanpour] But, Foreign Minister, isn’t that the point? You know, it wasn’t so long ago that Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump were trading massive insults, also trading insults and threats between North and South Korea. And I think everybody who witnessed the historic handshake between Trump and Kim realized the President setting nature of that. But what is the substance to back up those warm words and that handshake? What is the substance that you can take to the bank? What has to happen next?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I think the substance lies in, you know, the discussions among the leaders themselves both at the US-North Korea level and also at the South Korea-North Korea level, which has happened twice already. As Mr. Trump said in his press conference about further commitments by the Chairman himself to eliminate a missile engine testing facility. We will see what that actually means further as we study this.
[CNN Amanpour] Foreign Minister. It is very rare to hear this kind of assessment, compared to the past. We have all been told to look out for concrete action, not just empty or unsubstantiated promises. President Trump told us that after they had signed the declaration, the North Koreans had pledged to, I don't know, destroy or whatever this engine testing site. Your own military intelligence have said up until now, “we have not observed any special movement there, the areas that South Korea and the US are surveilling with interest, but no special movement.” So, I put it to you that it is the intercontinental ballistic missile capability that changed the equation about the threat from North Korea. What do you need to see to make sure this threat is over? Everybody knew that they had weapons. It was the intercontinental ballistic missile capability that changed the threat. What do you need to see next?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, we do need to see for sure that the engine testing site, which is critical to their ability to develop ICBM... that being dismantled as the Chairman himself had told President Trump. We’ll see and we expect that to happen. But, we will know for sure when that actually happens.
[CNN Amanpour] And in the meantime, can you just tell me... was South Korea given a heads-up that President Trump was going to declare an end or suspension, or whatever we want to call it, to the joint military training maneuvers? As you see, he did adopt the North Korean language about them being war games and provocative. Were you given a heads-up? Did you know he was going to put that to Kim Jong-un?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, we were notified, but we respect his judgment in this. I think that comes from his discussions with the Chairman, and I think he had judged that based upon that discussion. This is something that he wished to say, and he notified us before the announcement. But, we also said in our Panmunjeom Declaration that we need to take measures to reduce the military tension. And this is very much in line with what President Trump had said and further clarified by Mr. Pompeo that this is not to stop it -- just to stop it, but to the extent that the North Koreans continue to engage in good faith discussions with the US and with us, to the extent that they take concrete, genuine action towards denuclearization.
[CNN Amanpour] Well, certainly, your President has said that there needs to be a further review of this decision. And, your military seemed to have been blindsided, just like the US military seemed to have been blindsided. But, let’s take you at face value, and say that this is something that you believe needs to be done in order to show good faith and willingness to enter a new kind of dialogue. What then do you make of the fact that most analysts cannot find any concession that the North Koreans have made? There was no declaration of their nuclear stockpile, or their missile stockpile. There was no pledge beyond sort of a pledge to reaffirm that they would continue progress towards denuclearization, and even there, they used the same language about the Korean Peninsula, which is you know. And there was nothing about verifiable, or irreversible, absolutely nothing that we were told about that. Does that not worry you?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Well, I think you need to, again, take this from a larger perspective, and not just focus on the nuclear issue. I think the political context of this discussion has shifted by the meeting between the North Korean and the President of the United States. This is truly historic, I think, the fact that they have decided to start a new chapter in their relationship overcoming seven decades of hostilities... but I think there is a lot of discussion about the missing V and I in the CVID in the outcome. And I think we have to understand that what the goal is complete denuclearization, and by that, we certainly mean the complete dismantlement of the North Korean weapons, the materials, and the facilities, and so on.
[CNN Amanpour] Foreign Minister, I fully understand where you are coming from, and you sit right on the doorstep of a nuclear and missile threat. So, I understand you want to shift this historic tension. But, I am still trying to figure out. There seems to be a lot taken on faith, and even in the issue of sanctions. Already, the Chinese are saying “Well, look, we are in a new era. Certainly, North Korea deserves sanctions to be removed.” North Korean media themselves are portraying this as a win-win for North Korea that they have been pledged a sanctions relief. That’s what the media is saying, that they have been treated as equals on the international stage, and that was the main reason for this summit. Let me play to you what Secretary of State Pompeo has said about the sanctions.
* [Secretary Pompeo] “When we refer to the mistakes of the past, they were providing economic and financial relief before the complete denuclearization had taken place. That is not going to happen. President Trump made that clear not only in his press conference, but made it clear when he was with Chairman Kim Jong-un himself, that the sequence will be different this time. That’s important. It is central to the understanding.”
So, does that give you some comfort, then, all this good faith actually does boil down to sanctions staying on?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Yes, I think we are very much on the same page on sanctions relief, exactly as Mr. Pompeo says, until we see visible, meaningful, genuine, verified action towards denuclearization, the sanctions will remain in place.
[CNN Amanpour] You’ve almost made light in this interview about verifiable and irreversible, and yet, we were told that was the basic bottom line for the President of the Unites States from his meeting with Kim Jong-un. What do you need to see, what does the alliance need to see, and is the next move in Kim Jong-un’s court?
[Foreign Minister Kang] Very much so. I think he has had a serious discussion with President Trump. He has committed to denuclearization, he has committed to taking action towards denuclearization, so we will see.
[CNN Amanpour] On that note, Foreign Minister Kang, thank you so much for joining us.
[Foreign Minister Kang] Always a pleasure. Thank you very much.