CIA Director Mike Pompeo denied supporting regime change in North Korea Thursday during his confirmation hearing for secretary of state.
Pompeo’s remarks followed questioning from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sen. Ben Cardin: Are you in favor of regime change in North Korea?
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 12, 2018
“Senator, I have never advocated for regime change,” Pompeo said. “I am not advocating for regime change.”
Pompeo added that it was incumbent upon the United States to prevent a North Korean nuclear ability to threaten U.S. cities.
“We have a responsibility to achieve a condition where Kim Jong Un is unable to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon.”
The inquiry relates to a July 2017 speech made at a conference in Aspen in which Pompeo advocated for removing Kim from his nuclear arsenal.
“It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that. But the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Pompeo said at the time. “So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right? Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart.”
Pompeo’s confirmation hearing comes as the administration prepares for a historic summit between Trump and Kim expected to take place in May or June.
The CIA director is said to be currently leading back channel talks between the two countries in preparation for the meeting.
According to a Washington source speaking with South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, Trump will demand Kim denuclearize within 6 months to a year following the meeting.
Analysts remain cautious given that North Korea’s stated intent is to work towards “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” a term that Pyongyang has historically used to refer to a wide-rang of demands.