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CIA Chief Aims to Denuclearize North Korea

by Countable | 7.27.17

After a momentary lull, North Korea is back in the news with four separate, but interconnected, items. Firstly, the CIA chief signaled he’s open for a regime change, and a development that could drastically influence our foreign policy, intel sources say the country will be able to launch a nuclear-capable intercontinental missile (ICBM) by next year. Also the U.S. is banning Americans from visiting North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the DPRK has launched a travel site.

DESIRE FOR REGIME CHANGE

According to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Trump constantly asks him about North Korea, and the threat from Pyongyang "is at the front of his mind."

Pompeo made the remarks at the Aspen Security Forum last week. While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the U.S. was against forcing Kim Jong Un from power, Pompeo took a more aggressive stance during the annual gathering of intelligence and national security officials.

"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. So from the administration's perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right?"

To accomplish this objective, Pompeo said that intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense have been tasked with drafting plans for separating Pyongyang from its nuclear arsenal. The CIA Director said he was "confident the intelligence committee will present a wide range of options for the President about how we might go about that."

Though Pompeo never explicitly advocated regime change, he did remark that he’s hopeful "we will find a way to separate that regime" from their nuclear systems. "The North Korean people I'm sure are lovely people and would love to see him go,” he said.

DPRK MISSILES CAPABLE OF HITTING U.S. BY NEXT YEAR

Partially in response to Pompeo’s intimations, North Korea has threatened a missile strike on "the heart of the U.S." if it attempts any regime change with Kim Jong Un.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that a spokesperson from the North Korean Foreign Ministry said, "Should the U.S. dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time."

According to a recent assessment by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Pyongyang will be able to test a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile by 2018--two years earlier than previously believed.

The revised prediction comes off recent missile tests carried out in DPRK. On July 4th, Pyongyang launched a missile, dubbed Hwasong-14, over the Sea of Japan, and hit a target a thousand miles off North Korea’s coast. This test, as the Washington Post reported, was "a most unwelcome surprise" to U.S. officials.

In response to these tests (amongst other transgressions), the House is proposing tougher sanctions on North Korea as part of its Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions bill. If passed, the bill would sanction individuals involved in Pyongyang’s forced labor, those who buy metals from - or provide military support to - the regime, and prohibit bank accounts that can be used to access U.S. currency.

(ANOTHER) TRAVEL BAN

The State Department last Friday said it will ban Americans from travelling to North Korea because of the risk of "long-term detention." This was the fate of student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced last year to 15 years of hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda poster from the DPRK. Warmbier returned to the U.S. in a coma, and died soon thereafter.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson authorized the "Geographical Travel Restriction" on U.S. Citizens, which bans them from entering North Korea.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, "Once in effect, U.S. passports will be invalid for travel to, through and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea."

The restrictions will go into effect near the end of August, which will provide a bit of leeway for any Americans currently in the DPRK on humanitarian missions or visiting as tourists.

Currently, North Korea is keeping two Korean-American academics and a missionary; a Canadian pastor; and three South Korean nationals who travelled north for missionary work in detention.

VISIT "BEAUTIFUL AND PICTURESQUE" NORTH KOREA

Last week, the DPRK went live with a new website promoting tourism to its "beautiful and picturesque landscape."

Visitors to the site are greeted with a map of North Korea that includes pictures and arrows to some of DPRK’s preeminent attractions. A side-bar helps potential tourists plan their trip with "useful information," a calendar of festivals and events, and a number of themed tours, which include itineraries based around taekwondo, architecture and even surfing.

"The sea sometimes runs high in some districts," the website says, “thus giving favourable conditions for surfing.” Nearby are beaches where "the water is not so deep, yet clear, the sand is as white as snow.”

Those who prefer more active vacations can sign up for the Labor Tour where "tourists are immersed in different labor life—manual rice-planting, weeding and fruit picking at the co-op farms or orchards in the country" where they’ll get a chance to “experience the diligent, cheerful profiles of the local people’s labor activities.”

According to the site, all of this – and more – is thanks to one person: "Today the tourist industry in the DPRK is developing afresh under the wise leadership of supreme leader Kim Jong Un." (bold theirs)

Are U.S. sanctions against North Korea enough, or should we consider a regime change? Should the U.S. have banned travel to DPRK earlier? And if the travel ban is lifted, would you consider visiting the country? Comment below.

--Josh Herman

(Photo credit: DPRK Tourism )

Countable

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(16)
  • Kodiwodi
    07/27/2017
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    This will be like two five year old bullies going at each other until they blow up the world. Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy.

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  • NoHedges
    07/27/2017
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    We need to focus on cleaning our own house before placing demands on others. Pass the Anti-Corruption Act Today . It would take Trump 5 minutes to "drain the swamp" to the satisfaction of Americans. For all we know, Trump and the hard right are provoking a war for their benefit. Think 💭 why else would they allow Trump to continue making a disaster of our foreign relations. These ARE NOT STUPID PEOPLE. And what we see as mistakes the elites might be ready to capitalize on. Any Republican legislator who honestly believes he/she or she will have a job after the hard right collapses the economy is an IDIOT. Get it through you head! The goal is still to make America Great, but their vision of trimming the fat means the death of 10-40% of Americans, the reinstitution of indentured servitude similar to the caste system in India, voter laws restricted to the elites, and a two tiered school system. I do believe they will eventually slow their destruction of the environment. But not across all areas, only those in which they live in and not until they have been able to meet whatever quota they have for fracking. In know this sounds crazy but I live in Colorado Springs just a few miles away from where the last American for Prosperity conference was held and I assure you this is their agenda.

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  • Dara
    07/27/2017
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    So the war mongers are itching to go to war. This is nothing new. We haven't learned anything since Korea. Diplomacy, not bullying!

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  • Deirdre
    07/27/2017
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    Using force against N Korea is just going to start WW3. Use diplomacy and sanctions. We don't need to have a nuclear war.

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  • CombatVeteran
    07/29/2017
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    It's long overdue. North Korea has been a thorn in the world's side for years. If they become nuclear capable, you can bet they'll be starting something. Don't let it get that far.

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  • James
    07/27/2017
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    This must be addressed and soon! If China would only step up their game and help us out!

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  • Phillip
    07/27/2017
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    What a crock. The state department says one thing while the CIA another. All his policies seem to take on the magicians look at one hand while I do this with the other. This should be handled like adults and by adults in the UN. Stop believing the propaganda that china has any pull over dprk. All they want is a buffer between their border and sth Korea which is full of US bases and military. It's the Russians and old USSR stalwarts who prop up this regime and funnel cash and nuclear capability to this place. It's a convenient place to keep things bubbling on in for the bigger players. It's ok for us to develop a strong stance or coherent policy and pursue it through the UN but this incoherent babble is not what we need and will lead us further down the accelerating road to a second tier player in the world.

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  • Jeff
    07/27/2017
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    Regime change, even if we could accomplish it without nuclear Armageddon in South Korea, would leave a power vacuum that requires careful preparation and planning in order to keep order and prevent control from falling to someone equally crazy and paranoid, and the US has never been successful at that. Just look at all the failed states we've created in the Middle East. My friends, I'm afraid the only viable option here is mutually assured destruction.

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  • Lee
    07/27/2017
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    It would be quicker and final just to assassinate him. Then destroy his military.

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  • Kyle
    07/27/2017
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    Denuclearize them And let's see a better leader.

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  • Shauna
    07/30/2017
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    I don't think this is possible.

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  • Frank
    07/27/2017
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    It's only going to happen by force. Seoul will burn to the ground, Russia and China will aid N Korea. WW III begins and someone in the mix will reach for the chemical weapons button and that leads to the nuclear response. MAGA y'all.

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  • A
    07/27/2017
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    This is great. Only problem is that the larger administration is no longer working toward nonproliferation, as the previous administration had. It's kind of the pot calling the kettle black, no? We should be working for total nonproliferation. Including in the USA.

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  • Marc
    07/27/2017
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    This guy is reckless, don't follow this course of action.

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  • James
    07/31/2017
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    We all know war is inevitable so let's get it over with.

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