U.S. Intel Agencies Believe North Korea Is Increasing Nuclear Production

Monday, 02 Jul, 2018

"There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea", read part of a tweet from Trump after he returned to the USA from a summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Japan's Self Defense Forces on Friday dropped their program to always deploy Aegis warships in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) that detect and intercept incoming missiles, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

The Washington Post on Saturday cited unnamed United States intelligence officials as concluding that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile.

The officials insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive assessments about a country that has always been one of the most hard targets for spy agencies to penetrate.

The NBC report quoted U.S. officials who said they believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might try to hide the facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the US.

Bolton agreed that North Korea "certainly" has a history of using diplomacy as a cover, but said "Kim Jong Un was very emphatic several times in Singapore that he was different from prior regimes".

South Korea's new president Moon Jae-in also favours a softer approach towards Pyongyang and has met Kim twice during the recent remarkable detente on the Korean Peninsula.

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"There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the US", the official said, according to NBC.

Asked about Trump's claim that the North Korea threat had been eliminated, Pompeo said Trump had meant to say only that the threat had been reduced. "North Korea has great potential for the future!"

Kim, the United States ambassador to the Philippines, met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui for working talks that were believed to be focused on setting the agenda for an upcoming visit to North Korea by Pompeo, according to reports in Yonhap News Agency and MBC television.

Washington has reportedly devised a programme to dismantle North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a year.

Bolton said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would soon begin discussions with North Korean officials on details of the disarmament. "I don't think there's any doubt about that", he said.

Even if North Korea's promises were honest, it could take years of work, accompanied by an unprecedented agreement to grant access to outside inspectors, before U.S. officials could confidently say that the weapons threat has been neutralised.

The US side was "working to see whether they can prepare for high-level talks between Secretary Pompeo and Kim Jong Un and others in Pyongyang that would be a specific denuclearization road map, or at least significant dismantlement steps that could fill in a road map", he said. "We had a very good chemistry".