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N. Korea will never give up nuclear arsenal: ex-U.S. intel chief

North Korea 06:43 January 05, 2019

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will never give up its nuclear arsenal and is seeking recognition as a nuclear power while manipulating U.S. President Donald Trump, former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Friday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's address that he is committed to complete denuclearization and ready to meet Trump at any time for a second summit.

Trump told reporters Wednesday that he is looking forward to the meeting, which will be set up in the "not-too-distant future."

"Kim Jong-un is in the driver's seat here," Clapper told CNN. "He's figured out how to appeal to President Trump, mainly through ego, writing him an occasional love letter and agreeing to photo op summits.

"And in the meantime, de facto -- every day goes by, de facto -- North Korea is a nuclear power and that's what they want to be recognized as," added the former U.S. intelligence chief.

"And I think that has a lot to do with the temperate behavior of late, which is a good thing."

North Korea did not test any nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles last year while Kim held a series of historic summits with Trump -- in Singapore in June -- and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

At the Singapore summit, Trump and Kim agreed to "work toward" complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.

There has been little tangible progress in implementing the deal.

A second summit will "probably not" serve any purpose, according to Clapper, but it could "reinforce in the president's mind that he and Kim Jong-un are getting along great, which makes it hard, I think, to be very strict with and coercive with the North Koreans."

"They haven't done anything towards denuclearization and it's my belief -- long-held belief -- they never will," he said. "And why should they denuclearize and give up all the leverage that they have -- what little they have?"

hague@yna.co.kr
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