The nuclear standoff with North Korea continues. As the isolated regime consolidates its nuclear capabilities, provoking its neighbors and U.S. allies, intelligence officials are advocating for global pushback. During a Q&A session hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, CIA Director Mike Pompeo warned of the mounting threat North Korea poses for U.S. national security.
“It is the case that they are close enough now in their capabilities that, from a U.S. policy perspective, we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective,” the CIA director said.
The comments come following economic sanctions placed on North Korea by the United Nations and back-and-forth jabs between President Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong-un.
“When you’re now talking about months, our capacity to understand that at the detailed level is in some sense irrelevant,” said Pompeo. “Whether it happens on Tuesday or a month from Tuesday, we are at a time where the president has concluded that we need a global effort to ensure that Kim Jong Un doesn’t have that capacity.”
Earlier in the morning, North Korea threatened nuclear annihilation against the U.S. in response to military exercises with South Korea conducted off the Korean peninsula.
“The U.S. is running amok by introducing under our nose the targets we have set as primary ones,” the state-controlled Korean Central News Agency warned. “The U.S. should expect that it would face an unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time.”
Following the threat, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that North Korea “should not be backed into a corner” during a speech organized by Valdai Discussion Club.
“They are closer now than they were five years ago, and I expect they will be closer in five months than they are today, absent a global effort to push back against them,” said Pompeo. “It’s now a matter of thinking about, how do you stop the final step?”
Although the time to contain North Korea’s nuclear capabilities is shrinking, the bigger threat the U.S. faces may come from countries with vested interests in the region. As the president prepares for a trip to an emboldened China, alongside an undermined Secretary of State, the balance of global power remains uncertain, potentially posed for redistribution.