U.S. intelligence chiefs have defined North Korea as one of the Big 4 countries along with China, Russia and Iran that threaten the U.S., saying, “North Korea is not likely to give up nuclear weapons.” The comments are seen as a direct contradiction to Trump’s policy towards North Korea, potentially impacting a second round of U.S.-North Korea summit scheduled to take place late February.
"We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said in his opening remarks at a hearing held before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
He unveiled a report titled "U.S. World Wide Threat Assessment" at the hearing, saying, "Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization.”
It appears that intelligence agencies have identified North Korea’s nuclear developments in detail. Regarding sanctions on North Korea, Director Coats said that North Korea is trying to weaken or even pressure and avoid U.S.-led sanctions via diplomatic channels.
The Senate hearing was attended by all the heads of leading U.S. intelligence agencies, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, DIA Director Gen. Robert Ashley, NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and NGA Director Robert. It signaled aligned views of the top U.S. intelligence officials towards North Korea’s nuclear developments. Senator Kamala Harris, who has newly declared candidate for president in 2020, asked poignant questions regarding North Korea’s ICBM threats and human rights issues.
The DNI report mentioned North Korea’s involvement of cybercrime to steal 1.1 billion dollars from financial institutions around the world and warned its danger. This included North Korea’s defraud of the Bangladesh central bank's funds of 81 million dollars deposited at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The Hill reported that threw cold water on the idea that North Korea will fully get rid of nuclear weapon stockpiles, commenting that the top intelligence chiefs directly contradicted President Trump’s claims about North Korea. The Associated Press reported that the assessments of the top leaders question whether Trump will be able to achieve goals in the second summit with North Korea.