North Korea intent on building reliable nuclear arsenal, says CIA chief

Pompeo (above) said the CIA believes North Korea wants to go beyond just being a theoretical threat. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - CIA director Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday (Jan 23) 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.

"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 said.

Kim seeks "the capacity to deliver from multiple firings of these missiles simultaneously," said Pompeo.

Moreover, he said, the Central Intelligence Agency 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."

The goal for Kim is not simply to protect his autocratic regime, Pompeo noted.

"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."

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

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

That said, Pompeo cast doubt on whether Kim is well-briefed on the situation.

"We are concerned that he may not be getting really good, accurate information. It is not a healthy thing to be a senior leader and bring bad news to King Jong-Un," Pompeo said, joking that such a person should buy life insurance first.

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