WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons capabilities despite recent moves indicating it was open to such actions, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Tuesday.
Coats’ assessment, in testimony before a Senate panel, clashed with President Donald Trump’s periodic upbeat assessments of North Korea’s commitment to decnuclearization since his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last June.
Coats said North Korea has halted its provocative behavior related to weapons of mass destruction, has not conducted any nuclear missile tests in more than a year and has dismantled some of its nuclear infrastructure.
And Kim continues to demonstrate openness to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Coats said in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Having said that, we currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD 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,” Coats said.
“Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization,” he said.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Frances Kerry)