Kim deal should include complete denuclearization of North Korea as final goal

30 January, 2019, 09:26 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • DPRK: Seeking peace, bilateral ties with U.S.

The 2015 Iran nuclear agreement has effectively curbed the Persian Gulf nation's nuclear ambitions, according to U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

South Korea's foreign minister told Reuters at Davos last week that North Korea must make concrete pledges toward curbing its nuclear weapons program, such as dismantling its main nuclear complex and allowing global inspections to confirm the process, when leader Kim meets Trump as soon as next month.

But, Mr. Coats added, the North "is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival".

Those were some of the assertions USA intelligence chiefs presented Tuesday to Congress in their annual "worldwide threat assessment", assertions that at times clashed directly with statements by President Trump and could pose fresh headaches for the White House as it seeks to reorient foreign policy.

The State Department, White House, CIA and other relevant departments declined to comment on Russia's proposal, and the Washington Post says it is unclear if the offer is still under negotiation or if it has affected the North Korea-U.S. talks.

"Kim has also sought to align the region against the US-led pressure campaign in order to gain incremental sanctions relief, and North Korean statements have repeatedly indicated that some sanctions relief is necessary for additional diplomacy to occur", the report said.

The intelligence officials said they had protected the 2018 U.S. congressional elections from outside interference, but expected renewed and likely more sophisticated attacks on the 2020 presidential contest.

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Although their assessment asserted that high crime rates and weak job markets in Central America "will spur additional US -bound migrants", it spent no time on the crisis on the border with Mexico for which Mr. Trump has considered declaring a national emergency.

The intelligence agencies said Iran continues to work with other parties to the nuclear deal it reached with the USA and other Western nations. Trump has ordered a partial pullback of USA forces this year, although no firm plan is in place.

"One of the bright spots between 2016 and 2018 is how much more cooperative we are in working with social media companies", Wray said. Without mentioning prospects for a peace deal, which appear to have improved only in recent days, the report said, "neither the Afghan government nor the Taliban will be able to gain a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year" if the US maintains its current levels of support.

"More broadly, U.S. adversaries and strategic competitors nearly certainly will use online influence operations to try to weaken democratic institutions, undermine USA alliances and partnerships, and shape policy outcomes in the United States and elsewhere", Coats said in his remarks (PDF) to the bipartisan panel.

"The capabilities and threat that existed a year ago are still there", said Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, the director of the Defence Intelligence Agency.

Officials also warned, as they did a year ago, about Russia's intention to interfere with the US political system via "information warfare" waged largely on social media, which stokes social and political tensions to divide Americans.

The intelligence chiefs' assessments broke with some past assertions by their boss, including on the threat posed by Russian Federation to US elections and democratic institutions and North Korea's determination to denuclearize. Trump has ordered a partial pullback of USA forces this year, although no firm plan is in place.

"We assess that foreign actors will view the 2020 USA elections as an opportunity to advance their interests", Coats said.


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