President Donald Trump's declaration that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat was "unwise and premature" former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell told CNN’s "New Day" on Wednesday.
"I think his statement most charitably can be called premature," said Mitchell, who was also special envoy to Northern Ireland and Senate majority leader. "There’s a long way to go."
He added that "We must all hope and pray that he is right that it does turn out to be no longer a nuclear threat. But I think it's unwise and premature to make that kind of declaration at this stage in the process."
Mitchell also stressed that “the most significant aspect of the statement that was made following the meeting was the omission of the words verifiable and irreversible,” because, even as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that has been the American standard.
Instead, Mitchell said, all that was stated was "that North Korea says it favors denuclearization without further definition of that word," which he pointed out is not new and at least 20 years old.
Mitchell stressed that optimism is completely unwarranted, "and I think, to the contrary, we should be careful and insist in these negotiations that this gap between the definition of the two sides on what is denuclearization, and an equally large gap on the timing and pace of that denuclearization has to be closed."
Mitchell also pointed out that Trump “has set a very high bar for himself by denouncing the Iran nuclear agreement that established the most rigorous inspection regime in history. There is no precedent for it. And to duplicate that in North Korea will be extremely difficult but, in my judgment, essential."
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