CIA Director Mike Pompeo dropped heavy hints at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday that the US was looking into regime change in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea.
“It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Pompeo said in Aspen, as reported by CNN.
“So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right? Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart,” said Pompeo of North Korea’s nuclear-weapons capacity.
Pompeo’s talk echoes statements early in Trump’s presidency when he said that the US would take care of North Korea unilaterally if needed. In May, the US had two aircraft carriers to the Korean peninsula while senior administration officials declared the policy of “strategic patience” dead.
Around that same time, reports of US Navy SEALs training with their South Korean counterparts popped up in South Korean media. South Korea has been preparing a “decapitation force” to eliminate Kim and the country’s nuclear command-and-control system.
But no strike on North Korea ever took place. And despite Trump tweeting that a North Korean missile that could hit the US mainland would “never happen,” one was tested on July 4. Furthermore, the US had a clear shot at killing Kim when North Korea tested it’s intercontinental ballistic missile but opted not to.
Pompeo said that the CIA and Department of Defence had both drawn up plans to accomplish “ultimately needs to be achieved” in North Korea and said he was confident the US could take on “every piece” of the threat. North Korea has vast and hidden nuclear and conventional weaponry that the US has been reluctant to strike.
Because of the intense secrecy around the positions of possibly nuclear-armed missiles, any attack on North Korea runs the risk of drawing a massive retaliation against heavily populated cities in the region, like Seoul, South Korea.
“As for the regime, I am hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system,” Pompeo said, according to CNN. “The North Korean people I’m sure are lovely people and would love to see him go.”
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