The director of the CIA said in a new interview that intelligence indicates North Korea may be capable of hitting the United States with nuclear weapons later this year.
Mike Pompeo told the BBC that the communist country may have the capability in “a handful of months.”
Pompeo said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s strong language, which has included challenging North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un publicly to start a nuclear war, have served as a deterrent to the unpredictable Kim.
“When you see this language that the president chooses to use, there are many audiences for it and… I assure you Kim Jong-un understands the message that America is serious,” Pompeo said.
South Korea officials are among those who credit Trump’s strong language for bringing the North Koreans back into dialogue with the South Koreans. The effort has culminated recently with the acceptance by both sides of North Korean athletes into the upcoming Winter Olympics, which will be held in South Korea.
Pompeo added that briefings on the matter include the seriousness of the current situation.
“We talk about him having the ability to deliver nuclear weapons to the United States in a matter of a handful of months,” he said. “Our task is to have provided the intelligence to the president of the United States that will deliver to him a set of options that continue to take down that risk by non-diplomatic means.”
In his New Year’s address, Kim threatened the United States, declaring that he has a button on his desk that he can press to launch missiles at America.
Trump responded through Twitter, saying he has a bigger button on his desk and that the dictator should be cautious about launching missiles because the U.S. can easily destroy him and North Korea.
Pompeo noted that officials are “mindful” of the loss of life that would happen in the region if a nuclear war were to start, including deaths in Japan and South Korea.
He said “many things are possible” when it comes to limiting Kim or removing him from power.
However, also this week, some officials said that the North Koreans have to demonstrate certain critical aspects of missile launches before they’re capable of hitting America.
“What he has not demonstrated yet are the fusing and targeting technologies and survivable re-entry vehicle,” Air Force General Paul Selva said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “It is possible he has them, so we have to place the bet that he might have them, but he hasn’t demonstrated them.”