Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he’s seen no heightened state of readiness from forces in North Korea as the hours closed in on the historic summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“All’s quiet,” Mattis said of the North Korean military. The country has not conducted a missile test since late last fall, and the U.S. assessment of the regime’s capabilities has not changed since then, Mattis said.
He would not say what the U.S. assessment was of North Korea’s public destruction of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in late May, or whether it definitively destroyed the site.
Any peace deal with North Korea is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the 23,000 U.S. troops deployed on the peninsula.
Trump and Kim are expected to meet at about 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday for a handshake and then will head into a closed bilateral meeting.
One topic that is not expected to be on the table between the two leaders is any mention of U.S. troop withdrawal from South Korea, Mattis said.
“Right now the U.S. and South Korea are not engaged [on troop withdrawal] and we’re the only ones who make up our mind on this,” Mattis said. “We’re not engaged in any reduction of U.S. forces talks and I think we all wait until after this [the summit] settles and we go forward.”