Sunday 17 February 2019

North Korea 'unlikely to give up nuclear programme', says US intelligence chief

 

(L-R) FBI Director Christopher Wray; CIA Director Gina Haspel; and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on 'Worldwide Threats' in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
(L-R) FBI Director Christopher Wray; CIA Director Gina Haspel; and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on 'Worldwide Threats' in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ben Riley-Smith in Washington

North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons programme, America's most senior intelligence chief said yesterday, in stark contrast to Donald Trump's optimistic comments on securing a breakthrough.

Dan Coats, the US director of national intelligence, said that North Korea's leaders see keeping their nuclear arsenal as crucial to "regime survival".

Mr Coats also warned there was evidence that Kim Jong-un's regime was taking actions inconsistent with its declared support for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

The remarks, which came during an appearance by six US intelligence chiefs before the Senate intelligence committee, jar with the US president's public views on the stand-off.

Mr Trump has repeatedly played up the prospect of North Korea denuclearising since he met with Mr Kim, the country's leader, during a historic summit in Singapore in June 2018. The US president tweeted shortly after that meeting that "there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea".

Mr Coats is a former Republican senator who serves in Mr Trump's cabinet.

He said: "We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival. Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearisation."

The assessment that North Korean leaders do not want to give up their nuclear weapons programme challenges a central tenant of the Trump administration's stance.

Mr Trump has repeatedly talked up the chance of a breakthrough - though at times has made clear he does not know when talks will end.

Irish Independent

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