DNI report assesses that North Korea will continue missile testing
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released its annual threat assessment report this week. The report uses what it describes as the “collective perceptions” of the intelligence community to assess threats to national security. The report will go to the House and Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
The thirty-one-page report includes entire chapters on Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, as well as additional sections on infectious diseases, biological weapons, and “abnormal health incidents.” Other sections focus on climate change and “other transnational issues”, most involving crime.
North Korea assessment
The North Korean section refers to the possibility of a nuclear test by the Kim regime this year.
According to the report, Kim Jong-un “will continue his efforts to steadily expand and strengthen Pyongyang’s nuclear and conventional capabilities targeting the United States and its allies, periodically using aggressive and potentially destabilizing actions to reshape the regional security environment. in his favour”. The DNI report also says Kim’s weapons and missile programs are “the ultimate guarantor” of his rule in North Korea. At the same time, Kim probably doesn’t see the current level of Western pressure as a reason to reassess the country’s weaponry stance.
Kim remains “strongly committed” to weapons of mass destruction programs, the report said.
“North Korea has begun laying the groundwork for increased tensions that could include the ICBM or possibly a nuclear test this year – actions that Pyongyang has not taken since 2017,” the report said. “The flight tests are part of North Korea’s effort to increase the number and type of missile systems capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the entire United States.”
In addition, North Korea is always on the lookout for sea-launched nuclear strike capabilities. There are also fears that North Korea may use chemical or biological weapons in a conflict or attack.
The ODNI also assessed that Kim will seek to undermine the U.S.-South Korean alliance by “oscillating between periods of escalating behavior and token gestures toward the South” to take advantage of differences in the approaches of the two countries.
Are you starting at Punggye-ri again?
A report released this week by Arms Control Wonk revealed that construction work was underway at North Korea’s nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. North Korea announced in the spring of 2018 that it was shutting down and dismantling the site. The report describes the changes as “very preliminary”, meaning the site is months or even years away from being used for explosives testing.
North Korea announced a moratorium on nuclear testing and intermediate-range and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles in 2018. However, following summits with then-President Donald Trump, the Kim regime announced in late 2019 that the moratorium was no longer in effect.
North Korea has already launched several missiles this year. The United States responded by increasing readiness in the region.
The DNI report also indicates that North Korea remains engaged in cybercrime and other criminal militants.
Other nuclear threats
The ODNI report expresses nuclear concerns about other countries, including Iran. As for China, the report says, “Beijing will pursue the largest nuclear force expansion and arsenal diversification in its history. Beijing is not interested in deals that restrict its plans and will not agree to negotiations that lock in US or Russian advantages.
Stephen Silver, technology editor for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who also contributes to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and connect today. Co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.