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Old 09-24-2018, 10:41 AM
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Arrow Gina Haspel Is Skeptical of North Korea’s Willingness to Give Up Nuclear Arms

Gina Haspel Is Skeptical of North Korea’s Willingness to Give Up Nuclear Arms
By: Julian E. Barnes - Sept. 24, 2018
RE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/u...rth-korea.html

WASHINGTON — The C.I.A. director said on Monday that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, will not give up his nuclear weapons easily, seeing them as crucial leverage to preserve his government.

In rare public remarks, Gina Haspel, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said that North Korea has spent decades building its weapons program, and noted that the government in Pyongyang had said it was “essential to their regime’s survival.”

Ms. Haspel’s remarks echo the skepticism of former C.I.A. officers, who are said to believe that North Korea will be reluctant to give up weapons as a part of negotiations with the United States.

The Trump administration has embarked on high-profile negotiations aimed at getting Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. President Trump had a summit meeting with Mr. Kim in Singapore in June, and since then has tried to reduce tensions with North Korea.

Mr. Trump is expected to discuss his administration’s negotiations during his work at the United Nations this week.

Ms. Haspel was careful to say the dialogue begun by Mr. Trump had improved the situation with North Korea. She said Mr. Kim wants to better the economic situation in his country, and that the C.I.A. is working to support Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ms. Haspel’s predecessor as head of the agency.

“I do think sitting here today in 2018 that we are in a better place than we were in 2017 because of the dialogue we have established between our leaders, the President and Chairman Kim Jong-un,” Ms. Haspel said during remarks at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

Unsurprisingly, Ms. Haspel was careful with her remarks about the president, keeping her comments apolitical but supportive of the administration’s stated priorities.

Former C.I.A. officers have said Mr. Trump’s attacks on former intelligence officials, including John O. Brennan, the former agency director, have threatened to politicize the apolitical work of collection and analysis.

Ms. Haspel was not asked directly about Mr. Trump’s attacks, but did field a question about morale at the agency. She said morale at the agency was constant.

“C.I.A. is a resilient work force, and we tend to be very mission focused,” she said. “We tend not to pay attention to the political fray in the capital. We are very focused on events overseas.”

Ms. Haspel used her remarks to outline her priorities at the agency, including improving diversity among the ranks of C.I.A. officers, investing more in filling intelligence gaps — especially for potential nation-state adversaries by stationing more officers overseas and investing more in language training.

She also said the C.I.A. was trying to do more on overseas counternarcotics efforts, adding that drugs have killed more people than terrorists have.

In a question-and-answer session, Ms. Haspel fielded questions about recent movies she had seen (“Red Sparrow,” about a Russian intelligence agent and the C.I.A.), favorite books (“Hillbilly Elegy”), preferred Johnny Cash songs (“Ring of Fire” and “I Walk the Line”) and Kentucky whiskey. (She dodged that one, but said that she had recently given a bottle of Woodford Reserve to a C.I.A. visitor.)

On more serious topics, she discussed China’s efforts to spread influence outside of Asia and the state of the Iranian economy. But her North Korea remarks were likely most revealing, as she recounted the efforts Mr. Kim had undertaken to build his nuclear arsenal.

Ms. Haspel’s remarks reflect the strong belief within C.I.A.’s Langley headquarters that it will be difficult to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Both current and former intelligence analysts are skeptical of claims of a dramatic shift in North Korean policy or diplomatic breakthroughs.

Bruce Klingner, a Korea analyst at the Heritage Foundation and former C.I.A. officer, said that intelligence analysts are constantly on the lookout for any new data that would entail a revision to the analysis.

But the skepticism among analysts comes from the failure of previous diplomatic attempts to solve the North Korean problem, Mr. Klingner said.

“Korea watchers tend to be a cynical and skeptical group after decades of watching previous efforts fail,” he said. “The North Koreans have been very clearly articulating their longstanding positions. Some say it is negotiating tactics. But look at what Kim Jong-un has said: ‘We will never abandon the sword of nuclear arms.’ ”

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Personal note: This only reinforces my earlier comment that NK isn't in any hurry nor will they ever disassembly their Nukes (Ever!). This is his leverage against all parties wishing to rid themselves of this tyrant. He's a young buck with a few big guns now and he won't let them go at any cost. Pretty soon everybody will have the nuke in their arsenal.

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