Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Monday the North Korean military appears to be in a state of silence.
“All’s quiet,” Mattis said on the state of North Korea’s troop readiness, but would not elaborate.
The secretary of Defense also said he did not know about a missile test that reportedly took place in November. He would not answer questions as to whether the Pentagon has assessed if North Korea’s nuclear test site had been destroyed.
In regard to North Korean trade and tariffs, Mattis said he has not deeply discussed the topic.
“On trade and tariffs, the only point I can make is that, for all that’s been in the news, it has not come up at any point,” Mattis said, saying that for his position in defense, trade and tariffs are “not seen as something that we’re engaging on in our portfolios.”
About military negotiations, Mattis added that diplomats must “frame the issue” in certain ways, including “in terms of time, in terms of the specific types of weapons — obviously, nuclear would be one but there’s others that could be involved.” (RELATED: Dennis Rodman Sheds Tears Over North Korean Summit, Says Obama Would Not Recognize His Efforts)
Mattis said that he did not want to interrupt the diplomatic process with North Korea. He added that talking about a military negotiation before “framing principles is to say generically what happened and that only complicates the diplomat’s job because they’re working on specifics right now.”
“My job is to find space to find solutions to support the diplomat,” Mattis said. “So you’ll never see me go ahead on something like that.”
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un recently removed three of his top military officials from their positions.
On Monday, Un and President Trump met in Singapore for diplomatic discussions. The pair met first with only each other and their translators for a brief period lasting around 30 minutes, and then transitioned into a working lunch with a small group of advisors. (RELATED: Kim Jong Un Sacks North Korea’s Top Military Brass Ahead Of Summit With Trump)
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