Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo said North Korea should not expect rewards from talks with the United States until steps toward "irreversible" denuclearization are taken.
At his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, Pompeo, who is currently serving as CIA director, said President Trump and his administration will make sure not to repeat past mistakes regarding North Korea, suggesting Washington will maintain maximum pressure and sanctions.
"We have a responsibility to achieve a condition where Kim Jong-un is unable to threaten the United States of America with a nuclear weapon."
He added that he's not optimistic that Pyongyang will agree to dismantle its nuclear program, and that in the past negotiations, the U.S. and the world had eased sanctions too quickly.
Pompeo also went on to say that if the U.S. was under direct threat from the North, Washington would take a response that moved "past diplomacy."
However unlike what many had widely viewed before, Pompeo said he's not advocating for regime change.
He added that, while Pyongyang's denuclearization is a tall order, he's hopeful President Trump can achieve it through "sound diplomacy".
On the same day, President Trump spoke to governors and lawmakers on the pre-summit developments, which are coming thick and fast.
"Meetings are being set up right now between myself and Kim Jong-un. I think it will be terrific. I think we'll go in with a lot of respect and we'll see what happens."
He also heaped praise on China for helping the U.S. setting up the summit.
The leaders of North Korea and the U.S. are to have their historic first ever bilateral summit in May or early June.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.