CIA: North Korea intent on building reliable nuclear arsenal

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WASHINGTON, DC: Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Mike Pompeo speaks in a discussion with author and columnist Marc Thiessen at the American Enterprise Institute, January 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Pompeo stated that the CIA believes that Kim Jong Un is a rational actor but they have concerns about the information Kim may be receiving from those around him. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

January 24, 2018
(AFP) - CIA Director Mike Pompeo said 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.

"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 denuclearization. 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 Kim Jong-Un," Pompeo said, joking that such a person should buy life insurance first.