Calling for President Donald Trump to not be “naive” and maintain a “maximum pressure campaign” on North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un and his burgeoning nuclear weapons program, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., warned Sunday against the U.S. being “snookered again” by the lure of talks in lieu of true denuclearization.
“Let’s hope not — you have that history — let’s not be snookered again, let’s not be Charlie Brown to North Korea’s Lucy,” Johnson told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We’ve seen this movie before. That’s why we’ve called on President Trump to make sure we maintain the maximum pressure campaign. I would ratchet up sanctions until they have complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.”
Johnson told CNN host Jake Tapper he joined five other Senate Republicans in a letter urging “maximum pressure” until the U.S. sees “complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization within North Korea.”
“What we can’t do is do is what we did with Iran and let off the pressure and just watch the behavior go in the wrong direction,” Johnson added. “So, again, it’s just incredibly important to keep — I would is a ratchet up the sanctions against North Korea until they actually do in a verifiable fashion denuclearize.”
Despite the announcement this week by South Korea’s national security adviser the U.S. will engage in talks with North Korea for the first time, amid a pause of a nuclear weapons development program, satellite images show North Korea has restarted a plutonium reactor.
“I think talking to people is never a bad idea as long as we maintain that pressure,” Johnson told Tapper. “I’ve never quite understood the enormous diplomatic gain by just sitting down and talking to somebody as long as you maintain the pressure. I’d rather talk to people to prevent any kind of miscalculation, and let’s face it, a miscalculation on the Korean peninsula could be devastating. I don’t have a problem in talking to people but we have to maintain . . .
“Again, I think the maximum pressure campaign is having its effect. We need to isolate North Korea. They say they’re self-sufficient. We’re putting them in a position they’re going to have to prove self-sufficiency and, of course, they’re not. And that maximum pressure campaign is bringing Kim Jong Un to the table for the first time — hopefully in good faith.”