U.S. defense intel chief says North Korea ‘hardest intelligence collection target’

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that North Korea is still “a critical threat to the United States and our allies in Northeast Asia.”

Ashley further noted in testimony that North Korea was the “hardest intelligence target” for the U.S.

In addition, the DIA chief said that despite a recent announcement by President Trump that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seeks a face-to-face summit to discuss denuclearization, Kim “shows no interest in voluntarily walking away from his nuclear or missile programs, which he has made central to his security strategy.” [source]

Analysis: The DIA’s assessment matches the assessment of the rest of the U.S. intelligence community regarding Kim’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. While it may be tempting to believe that the president and Kim will come to some sort of agreement if and when they meet, perhaps by spring, we can’t forget how much time and how many resources the North has spent up to this point on its nuclear weapons program especially. As Ashley pointed out, over the past two years alone the North launched more than 40 short-, medium-, intermediate- intercontinental-range, and submarine-launched missiles; he added that although “flight tests on longer-range missiles in 2016 were marked by multiple failures and setbacks, 2017 saw Pyongyang making advancements.”

Time will tell if Trump is the U.S. president who denuclearizes the Korean peninsula.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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