ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronCrossEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
N Korea at crossroads

North Korea unlikely to give up nuclear weapons: US spy chief

Activity inconsistent with pledge to fully dismantle program, says Dan Coats

Intercontinental ballistic missiles on display at a grand military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang in February 2018.   © Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- North Korea is unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons and has continued activity inconsistent with pledges to denuclearize, U.S. national intelligence chief Dan Coats said on Tuesday, apparently contradicting President Donald Trump's claims of big progress with Pyongyang.

The director of national intelligence's downbeat assessment, in testimony before a Senate committee, came just weeks ahead of a planned second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The American president is hoping for a big foreign policy win from the meeting.

The annual Worldwide Threat Assessment from the Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI), released by Coats, noted that North Korea had not conducted any nuclear or missile tests in over a year and had declared its support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang had also "reversibly dismantled" parts of its infrastructure for weapons of mass destruction, the report said.

"However, we continue to assess that North Korea is unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons and production capabilities, even as it seeks to negotiate partial denuclearization steps to obtain key U.S. and international concessions," it said.

"Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization," Coats told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, adding that North Korean leaders saw nuclear arms as critical to survival of the regime.

The DNI report said that in his 2019 New Year’s address, Kim pledged that North Korea would "go toward" complete denuclearization and promised not to make, test, use, or proliferate nuclear weapons.

However, it said Kim conditioned progress on "practical actions" by the United States and added that Pyongyang had in the past tied the idea of denuclearization to changes in diplomatic ties, economic sanctions, and military activities.

A landmark first summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore in June produced a promise by Kim to work toward the complete denuclearization of the divided Korean Peninsula. But progress has been scant.

Washington has demanded concrete action, such as a full disclosure of North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities. Pyongyang is seeking a lifting of international sanctions and an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The White House has said Trump will hold a second summit with Kim around the end of February, but economic sanctions will be maintained.

On Jan. 19 Trump said he had had "an incredible" meeting with North Korea's nuclear envoy Kim Yong Chol in Washington and the two sides had made "a lot of progress" on denuclearization.

Earlier Tuesday, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Han Tae Song, said relations with the United States would develop "wonderfully at a fast pace" if Washington responded to Pyongyang's efforts on denuclearization with trustworthy measures and practical actions.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media