North Korea's push to use more coal clouds environmental future


U.S. intelligence chiefs contradicted some of President Donald Trump's most fundamental foreign policy claims Tuesday (Jan 29), underscoring a persistent division in his view of the world and theirs.

The chiefs made no mention of a crisis at the US-Mexican border for which Trump has considered declaring a national emergency. But analysts said it showed a glaring divide that has existed since the beginning of Trump's term in 2017.

DPRK's envoy Kim Yong Chol (R) delivers a letter from his country's leader Kim Jong Un to U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, January 19, 2019.

The summit last June between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump had brought about a dramatic turn in relations that had been "the most hostile on earth" and contributed to ensuring peace and security on the divided peninsula, Han said.

In another notable statement, Coats noted that USA intelligence agencies believe North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons because "its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival".

The assessment itself noted, as Mr. Trump has, that "Pyongyang has not conducted any nuclear-capable missile or nuclear tests in more than a year, has declared its support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and has reversibly dismantled portions of its [weapons of mass destruction] infrastructure".

The "Worldwide Threat Assessment" report on which Coats based his testimony said U.S. intelligence continues to "observe activity inconsistent with" full nuclear disarmament by the North.

"Iran's continued implementation of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions] has extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about one year". However, Coats and other intelligence officials made clear they see it differently.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the panel that the FBI is investigating Chinese economic espionage in almost all of its 56 field offices around the country. Plans for a follow-up summit are in the works but no agenda, venue or date have been announced.

Beyond North Korea, Coats said in the written summary of the intelligence community's annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" that threats to national security will "expand and diversify in the coming year" as China and Russian Federation "compete more intensely" with the USA - and as their interests converge.

While China and Russian Federation strengthen their alliance, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said, some American allies are pulling away from Washington in reaction to changing United States policies on security and trade.

"More broadly, U.S. adversaries and strategic competitors nearly certainly will use online influence operations to try to weaken democratic institutions, undermine USA alliances and partnerships, and shape policy outcomes in the United States and elsewhere", Coats said in his remarks (PDF) to the bipartisan panel.

"I believe they will begin coordinating topics for the summit in order to draft a joint declaration in the DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations, along with their working-level preparations for the second DPRK-U.S. summit such as safety and protocols", the NIS chief was quoted as telling the parliamentary intelligence committee.