Lawmaker drops bombshell: North Korea may have nuclear missiles
An unclassified Pentagon report not yet released to the public suggests that North Korea can arm missiles with nuclear warheads, a lawmaker revealed Thursday.
(Page 2 of 2)
They speculated on what, precisely, Mr. Kim’s reasons might be for what has largely been seen as a reckless ratcheting up of tensions in the region – behavior, officials divulged, that appears to be exasperating even Kim’s closest ally, China.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures North Korea: A credible threat?
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
It seems, for starters, that Kim does not have a great deal of emotional intelligence, US officials indicated during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
“Unlike his father, I think he’s underestimating the Chinese frustration with him and their discomfiture with his behavior,” said James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
“He impresses me as impetuous – not as inhibited as his father became about taking aggressive action,” he added. “The pattern with his father was to be provocative and then to sort of back off. We haven’t seen that yet with Kim.”
Kim spent his period of grieving for his father – “to the extent that he had [a grieving period],” Mr. Clapper observed – with officials from North Korea’s military and security services.
“So, clearly they have influenced him” in some of his aggressive posturing of late.
But though his father has passed away, family does continue to influence him, often for the better. “I do think that his uncle and his aunt do have some tempering influence on him,” Clapper said.
So, too, does the time he spent in the West, attending school in Switzerland.
“I found it very interesting that the minister of economics that he just appointed was someone who was purged in 2007 for apparently being too capitalist-minded,” he added. “So clearly he does recognize, since he’s spent time in the West ... that economically North Korea is in an extremis situation. So it will be interesting to see how this plays out – if the new economics minister avoids another purge.”
As far as Kim’s intentions regarding his bellicose actions? “I think his primary objective is to consolidate, affirm his power. And much of the rhetoric – in fact, all of the belligerent rhetoric of late, I think – is designed for both an internal and an external audience,” Clapper added. “But I think first and foremost it’s to show that he is firmly in control in North Korea.”
So, does Kim have an endgame in mind, one lawmaker wanted to know.
“I don’t think, really, he has much of an endgame other than to somehow elicit recognition from the world – and specifically, most importantly, the United States – of North Korea as a rival on an international scene, as a nuclear power, and that entitles him to negotiation and to accommodation and, presumably, for aid,” Clapper said.
The bottom line is that “Kim Jong-un has not been in power all that long, so we don’t have an extended track record for him like we did with his father and grandfather,” said John Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who also testified before the committee.
“And that’s why we are watching this very closely to see whether or not what he is doing is consistent with past patterns of North Korean behavior.”
What does seem clear, officials told lawmakers, is that Kim does not appear to have the restraint his father had.
“Clearly, he’s off-pattern with his father,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R) of Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, observed. “Even folks who specialize in the region say this: ‘If you’re ever going to be concerned, this is the time to be concerned.’ I’m just curious as to your assessment.”
“Well,” Clapper responded, “I agree with you.”
RECOMMENDED: Kim 101: How well do you know North Korea's leaders?