Former spy chief: Denuclearized North Korea not in the cards

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Story highlights

  • Clapper said North Korea would remain a nuclear state
  • Pompeo said US policy remained achieving a non-nuclear North Korea

Washington (CNN)Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, now a CNN contributor, said Sunday that he does not foresee a scenario where North Korea relinquishes its nuclear weapons.

"I'd love to see it, but I don't think that's in the cards," Clapper said on CNN's "State of the Union."
The former top intelligence official in the Obama administration said denuclearization was a "nonstarter" for the North Korean government, which he said viewed its nuclear weapons program as its "ticket to survival."
    Clapper's assessment came as CIA Director Mike Pompeo reiterated Sunday that the Trump administration's goal was to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Pompeo touted a unanimous United Nations Security Council vote earlier this month to increase sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear program and said the US had seen China join the US in demanding that Pyongyang denuclearize.
    "We've seen the Chinese now say for among the first times that they believe the correct answer has to be a denuclearized peninsula," Pompeo said on "Fox News Sunday."
    He added, "That's exactly the policy of the Trump administration."
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    Tensions between North Korea and the United States have racheted up in recent weeks. President Donald Trump said he would respond to further threats from North Korea with "fire and fury," and North Korea threatened to attack Guam, a US territory.
    Pompeo said the rhetoric from Trump was geared at sending a message to North Korea and letting the isolated nation know that the US policy of "strategic patience" had come to an end.
    Clapper said on CNN that the rhetoric was having a destabilizing affect and could cause North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to decide to lash out.
    "Many people, myself included, would argue for more temperate language than the 'fire and fury' kind of thing," Clapper said.
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    'Nothing imminent'

    Despite the increased tensions and the bellicose rhetoric from Trump and Kim, Pompeo said there was "nothing imminent" for people to worry about and that he had seen "no intelligence" that would indicate the two nations were on the cusp of nuclear war.
    And Pompeo said he fully expected Kim to continue to oversee missile tests and seek to advance the North Korean nuclear program in an effort to shore up the country's ability to strike the mainland United States with a nuclear weapon.
    "I'm quite confident that he will continue to try to develop his missile program, so it wouldn't surprise me if there was another missile test," Pompeo said.