CIA chief downplays concerns over U.S.-North Korea standoff
CIA director Mike Pompeo offered assurances on Sunday there was “nothing imminent” in the U.S. standoff with nuclear-armed North Korea but said he wouldn’t be surprised if Pyongyang conducted another missile test.
Pompeo’s remarks cap a week in which U.S. President Donald Trump vowed “fire and fury” if North Korea continued to threaten the United States with nuclear weapons, and Pyongyang countered by announcing plans to test-launch missiles toward Guam.
Asked how worried people should be, Pompeo told Fox News Sunday: “Nothing imminent.”
“There’s nothing imminent today. But make no mistake about it … the increased chance that there will be a nuclear missile in Denver is a very serious threat.”
Pressed on his “nothing imminent” statement, Pompeo said: “What I’m talking about is, I’ve heard folks talking about that we have been on the cusp of a nuclear war. No intelligence that would indicate we are in that place today.” He said the U.S. intelligence community has “a pretty good idea” about what’s going on in North Korea. He added that he was confident North Korea would continue to develop its missile capabilities under its leader Kim Jong-Un, “so it wouldn’t surprise me if there was another test. He conducted two in July so it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s another missile test.”
The missile tests last month demonstrated that the nuclear-armed regime now has intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, experts said.
The Washington Post reported this week that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that North Korea has developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be put atop an ICBM.
Pompeo declined to say how long it will be before North Korea could carry out such a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland. “It is probably fair to say that they are moving towards that at an ever alarming rate.”
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster echoed the tenor of Pompeo’s remarks, saying the threat posed by North Korea is “coming to a head,” but adding in an interview on ABC, “we’re not closer to war than a week ago.”
“Our response is we’re prepared militarily to deal with this if necessary. We’re taking all possible actions short of military action, to resolve this very grave threat to the United States and the world.”