During an interview with Fox News’ Happening Now this morning, Senator Portman discussed the upcoming direct talks with North Korea and the need for the United States to maintain maximum pressure on the regime to change course and dismantle its nuclear weapons systems. Portman also highlighted the need for a peaceful and diplomatic two-state approach to address the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Excerpts of his interview can be found below and a video of the interview can be found here.

PORTMAN ON CONTINUING TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA

“The last three administrations have tried and failed to negotiate something that is in our national security interests. The North Koreans are willing to talk and yet theyre not willing to keep to commitments that they make. So you’re right to be skeptical. On the other hand, I do see good movement forward. Not just the announcement today they’re allowing South Korean journalists to look at the dismantling, but the release of the three hostages. I wish that happened one year ago. Otto Warmbier is one of those that should have been released immediately. It’s unbelievable—the treatment he received—and really shows the evil nature of that regime. I don’t think that we should trust them. The other hand, it’s good we’re having a direct dialogue. I have called for that over time. I think there’s some positive signs recently that this summit in Singapore could be successful.

“We need commitments on denuclearization. That’s the stopping of the testing, not just of the weapons but also the means to deliver them, the ICBMs, which were mentioned earlier. B ,but also just taking their nuclear weapons program and dismantling it. As long as that regime has nuclear weapons, it continues to be a danger to the region and to the world given their delivery system. It has to be specific commitments. In exchange for that, they’ll be looking for something. We’ll see what that is. In the past, it’s been economic help, as you know, and enhancing trade. The sanctions have finally started to bite. I think that the regime believes the administration is serious about tightening the sanctions further.

“I think three things have happened. One, they have achieved a level in their nuclear weapons program where they believe at a minimum it gives them leverage. Do they have a certain way to access our borders? Could these missiles actually reach the United States? Probably. But maybe not. At least they have the ability now and they have certainly said they have the ability to reach our shores. Second, the sanctions. These international sanctions that the U.N. finally was willing to help us on. So it was not just unilateral sanctions, but a much broader international group, including China. The tightening of those sanctions is probably the single most important reason for the timing. Finally, is the ability of this administration to persuade the regime and others that they’re serious. They have not taken the military option off the table. When General Mattis and others speak, they have credibility. That combination has gotten us here. Now have to be sure that, once again, we’re not making commitments, concessions to them in exchange for commitments that can’t be verified on their part. We have to be sure that they are indeed dismantling their program.”

PORTMAN ON THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and in every other country, the country gets to choose where the U.S. embassy is in their capital. This has been long standing policy among many of us, including me, and it’s not a surprise, certainly to anybody, that we believe Israel ought to have that right. With regard to the tensions, this will only be resolved, this ongoing Israeli-Palestinian tension, with a peaceful, diplomatic approach. Rushing the fence and the violence that has been perpetrated is not going to solve the issue. I believe in the two-state solution, not everybody does and I understand that, but I think that’s where the Palestinians and those on Gaza, where Hammas has been, as you know very active, these last 24 hours promoting this rush on the fences and really perpetrating a lot of this violence. They have to decide if they’re willing to compromise and have a two-state solution. I think there’s a way forward here and maybe, just maybe, with all the violence that has occurred in the last 24 hour that it will get more attention from the international community.” 

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