Intelligence Chief: N. Korea's WMDs 'Critical to Regime Survival'

National Intelligence Director Dan Coats says it's 'unlikely' Kim Jong Un will entirely give up nukes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2019 11:05 AM CST
Intelligence Chief Expects N. Korea to Keep WMDs
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, 2017.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

In an assessment casting doubt on President Trump's goal of a nuclear-disarmed North Korea, US intelligence agencies told Congress Tuesday the North is unlikely to entirely dismantle its nuclear arsenal. National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, in testimony for the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted leader Kim Jong Un has expressed support for ridding the Korean Peninsula of nukes and hasn't recently test-fired a nuclear-capable missile or conducted a nuclear test, reports the AP. "Having said that, we currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival," Coats said in a statement, noting "observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization."

This skepticism about North Korea is consistent with the intelligence agencies' views over many years and runs counter to Trump's assertion that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat. More broadly, the intelligence report on which Coats based his testimony predicted that security threats to the US and its allies this year will expand and diversify, driven in part by China and Russia. It says Moscow and Beijing are more aligned than at any other point since the mid-1950s and their global influence is rising. Coats told the committee that Russia and perhaps other countries are likely to attempt to use social media and other means to influence the 2020 US presidential election. "We expect our adversaries and strategic competitors to refine their capabilities and add new tactics as they learn from each other's experiences, suggesting the threat landscape could look very different in 2020 and future elections," the intelligence report said. (Trump is to meet with Kim next month.)

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