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CIA chief: North Korea close to nuke that could hit US
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 19, 2017

CIA chief: if Kim Jong-Un should disappear... uh, let's not talk about it
Washington (AFP) Oct 19, 2017 - The US Central Intelligence Agency thinks that North Korea's Kim Jong-un is a rational actor who is focused on staying in power and "waking up in his own bed" each day.

But if Kim should suddenly not show up for work, well, don't ask US spy chief Mike Pompeo about it.

"With respect to, if Kim Jong-Un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I'm just not going to talk about it," the CIA director said Thursday, when asked what would happen if Kim suddenly died.

"Someone might think there was a coincidence. 'You know, there was an accident.' It's just not fruitful," he said to laughs from a Washington audience full of national security officials.

The US agency has a dark history of involvement in plots to overthrow or eliminate leaders in countries like Iran, Cuba, Congo, Vietnam and Chile.

North Korea alleged earlier this year that the CIA working with South Korean intelligence had tried to kill Kim, 33, without offering any proof.

Pompeo, speaking to a forum held by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, stressed that US policy was to "diplomatically and economically challenge the North Korean regime" to convince Kim to pull back on his emerging nuclear threat to the United States.

"Kim Jong-Un's mission is just to stay in power," he said.

But Pompeo, who became director of the CIA in January, added he was revitalizing the agency's field missions.

"We are going to become a much more vicious agency," he said.

The United States should assume Kim Jong-Un's regime is "on the cusp" of getting a nuclear missile capable of striking US targets and work to prevent this, the head of the CIA said Thursday.

CIA director Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump is determined to prevent North Korea from making the breakthrough "whether it happens on Tuesday or a month from Tuesday."

Both Pompeo and US National Security Adviser HR McMaster said Trump would still prefer to use sanctions and diplomacy to force Kim to come to the table to discuss disarmament.

But, speaking to a Washington policy forum, both also warned that the use of US military force remains an option to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring a long-range nuclear missile.

"They are close enough now in their capabilities that from a US policy perspective we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective," Pompeo said.

Pompeo said US intelligence had kept close tabs on the North Korean program in the past, but that its missile expertise is now growing too quickly to be sure when it will succeed.

"But when you're now talking about months our capacity to understand that at a detailed level is in some sense irrelevant," he said.

"The president's made it very clear," he added.

"He's prepared to ensure that Kim Jong-Un doesn't have the capacity to hold America at risk. By military force if necessary."

This week, North Korea's deputy UN ambassador declared that Pyongyang would not put its nuclear arsenal nor ballistic missile program on the table unless Washington drops its "hostile" stance.

And Kim's regime has made no secret of its efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting US mainland cities or bases in the Pacific, conducting regular tests.

McMaster told the conference, organized by the Federation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), that the regime would not be allowed to develop arms that would threaten the United States.

"We are not out of time but we are running out of time," Trump's top security adviser said.

"The president has been very clear. He's not going to accept this regime threatening the United States with nuclear weapons," he warned.

"There are those that say, 'accept and deter'. Well, 'accept and deter' is unacceptable."

EU to consider further measures against N. Korea: summit text
Brussels (AFP) Oct 19, 2017 - The EU is to consider stepping up measures aimed at punishing North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic weapons programmes, in a summit agreement approved by leaders on Thursday.

The bloc blacklisted the North Korean army on Monday as part of a new round of sanctions that European powers hope will help force Kim Jong-Un's regime to the bargaining table.

New measures approved by EU foreign ministers also included a complete ban on investment in the North, which carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test last month, and a total embargo on oil and petrol products.

EU heads of state and government meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday will give their backing to the new measures, which go beyond sanctions imposed by the UN, and warn Pyongyang that more could be on the way.

"The recent behaviour of the DPRK is unacceptable and poses a significant threat to the Korean peninsula and beyond," the leaders said in written conclusions to the summit.

"The European Council will consider further responses in close consultation with partners and the EU will continue to reach out to third countries urging the full implementation of UN sanctions."

The EU has more sanctions in force against North Korea than against any other country, and given the limited trade between them there is little scope to expand measures much further.

Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser, whose country holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said last month that "there is only so far we can go further before hitting absolute zero."

EU leaders will also reiterate their demand for Pyongyang to "fully and unconditionally" abandon its nuclear and ballistic weapons programmes.

Tensions have soared in recent weeks following Pyongyang's latest nuclear test as US President Donald Trump engages in an escalating war of words with Kim.

The North's missile and nuclear capabilities have made significant progress under Kim, who told party officials this month that the country's atomic weapons were a "treasured sword" to protect it from aggression.

N. Korea sends China Communist Party faint praise
Seoul (AFP) Oct 18, 2017
North Korea issued an unusually short congratulatory message to China's Communist Party Wednesday as President Xi Jinping opened its five-year congress amid strained ties between the two traditional allies. China is North Korea's longtime ally and economic benefactor, saving the country from defeat during the 1950-53 Korean War. But the relationship has soured in recent months over Pyong ... read more

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