North Korea could possibly develop a nuclear weapon within “months,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday.
Pompeo was speaking during a question-and-answer portion of a session hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Washington Examiner reported.
“It is the case that they are close enough now in their capabilities that from a U.S. policy perspective, we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective,” Pompeo said, the Examiner reported. “When you’re now talking about months, our capacity to understand that at the detailed level is in some sense irrelevant. Whether it happens on Tuesday or a month from Tuesday, we are at a time where the president has concluded that we need a global effort to ensure that Kim Jong Un doesn’t have that capacity.”
“They are closer now than they were five years ago, and I expect they will be closer in five months than they are today, absent a global effort to push back against them,” Pompeo said. “It’s now a matter of thinking about, how do you stop the final step?”
Earlier on Thursday, North Korea threatened the United States with an “unimaginable strike” if it keeps up military drills with South Korea, which are currently ongoing.
The U.S. and South Korean forces are conducting maritime drills, including a multinational mine warfare exercise, in the waters off South Korea’s eastern coast. The U.S. is also expected to conduct a drill next week called Courageous Channel, where the U.S. will practice evacuating South Korea in the event of a world crisis.
North Korea is often more vocal during during any type of military drills, as it sees the drills as practice for the U.S. to invade or attack.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula is seemingly at a standstill, as both the U.S. and North Korea continue to go back and forth with threats and theoretical situations. It appears little progress has been made in steering North Korea away from its nuclear weapons ambitions.
A North Korean official recently told CNN that North Korea wants to develop a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the East Coast of the U.S. before it will engage diplomatically with the Trump Administration.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had said Americans should be concerned with North Korea’s ability to possibly strike the U.S. mainland with a missile, and if the threat goes “beyond where it is today, well, let’s hope that diplomacy works,” CNN had reported, adding that Kelly said Pyongyang “is developing a pretty good nuclear re-entry vehicle,” meaning the missile would be able to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere without imploding, thus being able to strike a target.
President Donald Trump recently shut down Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statements that the U.S. has an open line of communication with Pyongyang, and would hope to solve the conflict diplomatically.
Trump alluded to the fact that his Administration and, most likely, the U.S. Military would be taking care of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
However, Tillerson on Sunday said diplomatic efforts would continue with North Korea until “the first bomb drops.”
North Korea last week threatened to again bomb Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific, in light of the U.S.-South Korean military exercises happening this week.