Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Secretary of State Pompeo testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on July 25, 2018. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s congressional testimony on Wednesday, he was asked when we would know if North Korea would choose to follow through on its pledge of complete denuclearization. “I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that” was his stark response.

Why it matters: After his summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump said on Twitter that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” In breaking from his boss on this critical point, Mike Pompeo made clear that, more than two months after the summit, no concrete steps have been taken to address North Korea’s nuclear threat, making the administration's transparency on the negotiations all the more crucial.

The details: Pompeo confirmed that North Korea continues to produce fissile material, the key ingredient of its growing nuclear weapon stockpile. When senators asked for additional details on the state of Pyongyang’s nuclear programs, he offered to provide a response only in a classified setting.

Reports since the Singapore summit underscore that there has been no fundamental change in North Korea’s nuclear program, which may include as many as 60 nuclear warheads. If anything, North Korea may be expanding production at secret nuclear sites. Shortly after the hearing, news emerged that the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party decreed that North Korea will never relinquish its nuclear arsenal, marking another break with Trump’s assessment.

What’s next: It’s too soon to write off the Singapore process entirely. But North Korea seems to be shrewdly dribbling out small steps on non-nuclear issues — like the return of presumed American remains from the Korean War — while continuing to build its nuclear arsenal. The danger is that Trump’s premature declaration of victory has been read by China and others in the region as a green light to ease up on sanctions and pressure, reducing U.S. leverage and making eventual denuclearization less likely.

The bottom line: What's most needed is an accurate assessment, divorced from politics, of whether Trump’s North Korea diplomacy is making progress toward denuclearization. Pompeo and his team should regularly provide both classified briefings and public updates — at Congress's insistence if necessary.

Jeff Prescott is executive director of National Security Action, a senior fellow at the Penn Biden Center and a former deputy national security advisor to Vice President Biden.

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

2 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!