Intel chiefs contradict Trump on Iran, North Korea arsenal, IS threats

Olive Hawkins
January 30, 2019

Breaking ranks with his boss in the White House, . the U.S. Director of National Intelligence has cast doubt over North Korea's willingness to denuclearize.

"North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival".

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.

And Kim continues to demonstrate openness to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Coats said in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"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 USA and global concessions", Coats said in the "Worldwide Threat Assessment" report.

But on Tuesday, Coats said that the US "assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization".

Trump claimed Kim agreed to that goal after their groundbreaking Singapore summit in June 2018.

USA intelligence chiefs on Tuesday contradicted President Donald Trump's statements that the Islamic State group has been defeated and that North Korea can be convinced to forego its nuclear weapons.

North Korea said on Tuesday that relations with the United States will develop "wonderfully at a fast pace" if Washington responds to its efforts on denuclearization with trustworthy measures and practical actions.

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Plans for a follow-up Trump-Kim summit are in the works, but no agenda, venue or date has been announced.

The Coats report highlighted the broad and increasing threat to the United States from China, a point of agreement across the board in the Trump administration. In May 2018, Trump withdrew the US from that accord, which he called a bad deal that would not stop Iran from going nuclear.

The report also said the Islamic State group "remains a terrorist and insurgent threat" inside Iraq, where the government faces "an increasingly disenchanted public".

He was joined by FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Defense Intelligence Agency chief General Robert Ashley, NSA chief General Paul Nakasone, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) director Robert Cardillo.

"ISIS still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and it maintains eight branches, more than a dozen networks, and thousands of dispersed supporters around the world, despite significant leadership and territorial losses", Coats said.

Trump has repeatedly said in recent months that Islamic State had been defeated, justifying his abrupt announcement in December that he would pull USA troops out of Syria.

Coats told the committee that Russian Federation and perhaps other countries are likely to attempt to use social media and other means to influence the 2020 USA presidential election. He said, "Moscow's relationship with Beijing is closer than it's been in many decades".

The report specifically warned about Russia's cyberattack capabilities.

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