Obama defense chief: ‘Promise by North Korea isn’t really’ anything new

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned on Friday that a potential promise by North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal should not be seen as "anything new," and that the U.S. should seek to put a process in place for ensuring denuclearization.

"I think we need to wish the president well in these negotiations, but a new promise by North Korea isn’t really going to be anything new," Carter said on CNN's "New Day."

"What we need to get is a plan where we can see — like the Iran agreement — step by step, and we can watch them dismantle what they have and the facilities that make them," he added, referring to the Iran nuclear deal.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpCummings says Ivanka Trump not preserving all official communications Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened 25 states could see severe flooding in coming weeks, scientists say MORE declared on Tuesday that the U.S. would pull out of the Iran deal, which sought to curb Tehran's pursuit of a nuclear arsenal in exchange for sanctions relief. Carter, who was a defense secretary under former President Obama who helped broker the Iran deal, separately told CNN that unraveling the deal "creates for us the prospect of having more forces to deter, more defenses to defend in the region, which inevitably drains forces away from Asia, from Europe."

Carter's comments came weeks before Trump travels to Singapore for a landmark meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

The U.S. is expected to push for the North to give up its nuclear weapons program entirely — a demand that Kim has reportedly suggested he is open to. 

But Carter warned that the Trump administration should not expect to secure a comprehensive commitment from North Korea after only one round of talks. He also advised caution in pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea as a way to appease Pyongyang.

"I would be very cautious about trading away U.S. forces or U.S. readiness on the Korean Peninsula," Carter said. "That kind of thing may come way down the road, but not upfront."

Trump said Friday that reducing the number of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea is “not on the table” in upcoming talks with Kim.