CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Sunday that there is no “imminent” threat of nuclear war with North Korea, but there is an ever-present danger as North Korea advances its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development programs.
“I have heard folks talking about being on the cusp of a nuclear war,” Pompeo told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” explaining that there is currently “no intelligence that would indicate that we are in that place today.”
North Korea has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile that can range most of the continental U.S., as well as nuclear warheads for its new ICBM. North Korea’s achievements have significantly escalated the threat.
Earlier this week, alarm bells sounded as North Korea warned that it was considering launching a salvo of four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards Guam, home to thousands of civilians and troops, as well as numerous strategic military assets, as a show of force. President Donald Trump issued his own warnings to North Korea, announcing that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s threats will be met with “fire and fury like nothing the world has ever seen.”
Later, Trump stressed that the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” for a potential conflict.
As the U.S. and North Korea traded jabs, many observers began to fear that the two countries might find themselves in a war that Secretary of Defense James Mattis previously said would be “catastrophic” and “tragic on an unbelievable scale.”
Pompeo sought to assuage those concerns Sunday, explaining that “there’s nothing imminent today.”
“But, make no mistake about it, the continuation, the increased chance that there will be a nuclear missile in Denver is a very serious threat,” the head of the CIA said, commenting that he is “quite confident” North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un will continue to advance his weapons programs.
He also clarified the president’s warnings, noting that the U.S. does not want war with North Korea but will take action to defend itself if attacked.
“The president has made it very clear to the North Korean regime how America will respond if certain actions are taken,” Pompeo told Chris Wallace, “We are hopeful that the leader of that country will understand them in precisely the way they are intended, to permit him a place to get where we can get the nuclear weapons off the peninsula.”
“It’s that straightforward,” he added, “What we need from an intelligence perspective, what is most important is that our communications are clear that the fella who intends to inflict pain on the United States of America understands the U.S. position in an unambiguous way. That’s the best message you can deliver to someone who’s putting America at risk.”
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