Press Availability with Secretary of Defense James Mattis (Excerpts)

July 24, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, good morning, everyone. I want to first thank Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and the Minister of Defense Senator Marise Payne, as well as their team, for joining us here in California.


QUESTION: Thank you, good morning. A few questions for multiple parties here. For Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Bishop, there are reports that North Korea has already begun to dismantle its facilities at its Sohae test site. Could you confirm that, and what moves – further moves would you like to see and how soon?

Then for Secretary Mattis, if I may, the President’s tweet on Iran suggested a possible military strike. Where do you see the red line that Iran would have to cross for the U.S. to engage in military force, and are you concerned about some miscalculation between U.S. and Iranian forces in the region based on this escalating rhetoric?

Finally, if I may, Foreign Minister Bishop, could you please update us as to how recently you may have been in touch with authorities in Myanmar for the release of our Reuters colleagues who have been tortured under custody? Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO: So let me take the first one first, and then I’ll turn it over to Secretary Mattis. So 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 when the two of them were in Singapore together. He made that commitment to them orally. We’ve been pressing for there to be inspectors on the ground when that engine test facility is dismantled consistent with Chairman Kim’s commitment, and I’ll leave it at that for this morning.

The second part of your question was what further steps would you like to take. That’s easy. They need to completely, fully denuclearize. That’s the steps that Chairman Kim committed to and that the world has demanded through UN Security Council resolutions. It’s that straightforward.

SECRETARY MATTIS: Yeah, on Iran, I think that what we have to look at is the destabilizing influence that Iran has consistently portrayed and demonstrated throughout the region. And the only reason that the murderer Assad is still in power – the primary reason – is because Iran has stuck by him, reinforced him, funded him. We see the same kind of malfeasance down in Yemen, where they’re fomenting more violence down there. We’ve seen their disruptive capabilities demonstrated from Bahrain to the kingdom. And it’s time for Iran to shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation. It cannot continue to show irresponsibility as some revolutionary organization that is intent on exporting terrorism, exporting disruption across the region. So I think the President was making very clear that they’re on the wrong track.

FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: In relation to North Korea, Australia stands firmly with the United States and the international community in holding North Korea to abide by the numerous UN Security Council resolutions that banned its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and we will offer whatever support we can in the process of verifying the complete dismantling of those programs. In the meantime, we will continue to enforce the sanctions and assist in the enforcement regime to ensure that North Korea is held to the promises it’s made to the President and to the United States about denuclearization. We’re all seeking stability and security on the Korean Peninsula, and the full and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea is fundamental to that.