Secretary Mattis Media Availability Prior to Malaysian Honor Cordon

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis

Q:  I wanted to ask about North Korea, because we didn't get to it.  Are you skeptical that they'll ever get rid of their nukes?

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES N. MATTIS:  I leave the negotiations over to State Department.  They all knew all along it was going to be hard.  I think they knew that in the State Department.  We knew that in New York.  We knew that in Pyongyang, Tokyo, and so on and so on.  We're all working towards that end. So it's going to be a long road, a hard road, and (inaudible) think it's on the right track.

Q:  Is disarmament really possible?  Is that a real possibility with North Korea at this point?

SEC. MATTIS:  Is there a possibility that...

Q:  That disarmament is possible.  You know, it...

SEC. MATTIS:  No, you'd have to talk to State Department, who's responsible for the negotiations.  But we provide backup for the -- for the State Department, for our diplomats.  It's firmly in their hands, and I know there's a lot of effort going into it.  

Q:  It's more of a military question.  What are your thoughts on the South Koreans removing tank traps and watchtowers from along the DMZ?

SEC. MATTIS:  This is part of a much more complex negotiation that's going on, so – again you need to talk to the people responsible for all these integrated negotiations.  

Q:  Everybody thinks that -- seems to believe that China could have a role in the negotiations with North Korea.  At the same time, our government …

SEC. MATTIS:  Who believes that?

Q:  Well, several specialists and analysts we're talking to.  When people from the governments thought that that may be the way to get North Korea...

SEC. MATTIS:  From the Chinese government?

Q:  Yeah, yeah.  But do you think that the current attitude from this government towards China makes things complicated?

SEC. MATTIS:  China's been part of this -- in the United Nations Security Council, and you're aware that our secretary of state has worked with their person -- your hair's going to get lost …

Q:  It's OK, sir.  It's -- for you, it's OK.

SEC. MATTIS:  OK.  But I mean, China's been part of this from the beginning in the (inaudible) of the United Nations, and certainly in our own working alongside them, and so you’ll have to talk to the State Department about that

Q:  Mr. Secretary, earlier today, the CIA director sounded very skeptical of North Korea ever disarming, saying it's essential to their survival.

SEC. MATTIS:  Well, I've already said all I'm going to say on it.  Yeah, I (inaudible).

Q:  Thank you so much.

SEC. MATTIS:  Bye now.