CIA Director: North Korea seeking reliable nuclear arsenal

CIA Director Mike Pompeo says North Korea is intent on developing a reliable arsenal of nuclear weapons and not just "a showpiece".

Ben Ariel,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned on Tuesday that North Korea is intent on developing a reliable arsenal of nuclear weapons to threaten America, not just "a showpiece" to preserve Kim Jong Un's regime.

"Kim Jong Un will not rest with a single successful test," Pompeo said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, according to AFP.

"The logical next step would be to develop an arsenal of weapons that is not one, not a showpiece, not something to drive on a parade route," he added.

The North Korean leader seeks "the capacity to deliver from multiple firings of these missiles simultaneously," said Pompeo.

Moreover, he said, the CIA believes North Korea wants to go beyond just being a theoretical threat -- where it is now -- to one with certainty.

"He is trying to put in our mind the reality that he can deliver that pain to the USA. And our mission is to make the day that he can do that as far off as possible," said Pompeo, who added that the goal for Kim is not simply to protect his autocratic regime.

"We do believe that Kim Jong-Un, given these tool sets, would use them for things besides simply regime protection," he said, pointing to Kim's ultimate goal as "reunification on the peninsula under his authority."

There has been an increase in tensions in the Korean peninsula lately, with North Korea carrying out missile and nuclear tests, in defiance of international pressure and United Nations resolutions.

North Korea recently launched a Hwasong-15 missile, a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which officials said can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles).

Pyongyang said following that launch as well that that it had test-fired its most advanced missile, putting the U.S. mainland within range, and also declared itself to be "a responsible nuclear power".

U.S. policy towards the North has included tougher sanctions and stepped-up efforts to halt the country's sea-borne trade with ship interdictions, said Pompeo.

"We are taking the real-world actions that we think will make unmistakable to Kim Jong Un that we are intent on denuclearization. We are counting on the fact that he'll see it. We are confident he will."

Kim recently claimed that his country has developed the capability to hit the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear weapons.

“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” Kim said in a televised New Year’s Day speech.

U.S. President Donald Trump later fired back, writing on Twitter, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Trump later toned down his rhetoric, saying dialogue with Pyongyang was not impossible.

The president added that any discussions with North Korea would be accompanied by unspecified conditions, while U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stressed North Korea would have to stop conducting nuclear tests before the United States would enter into any talks with it.