James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, said Sunday that he does not think a denuclearized North Korea is “in the cards” and the U.S. should accept that and focus on controlling it.
“Ideally I love a denuclearized North Korea, but as I learned when I went there and had some pretty intense dialogue with them, that is a nonstarter with them,” Clapper, who served under former President Barack Obama, told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That is their ticket to survival, and I don’t see any way they’re going to give it up.”
“I think our process, our thought process here, ought to be on accepting it and trying to cap it or control it,” he continued. “But I think a denuclearized North Korea, I would love to see it, but I don’t think it’s in the cards.”
Reports that North Korea successfully loaded a nuclear warhead onto a missile have escalated tensions between the isolated country and the U.S.
President Donald Trump alarmed some lawmakers last week when he warned the country that it would experience “fire and fury” if it threatened the U.S. again. The comments were criticized by some as overheated and interpreted as a threat of a preemptive nuclear attack.
Clapper similarly called for “more temperate language” than those comments on Sunday.
“When I served in Korea many years ago as the director of intelligence U.S. forces in Korea, what I was worried about was an incendiary event getting out of hand,” he told Tapper. “And we can’t know, we don’t understand, exactly what the decision making mechanisms are, processes surrounding Kim Jong-un in North Korea or what would set him off. And that’s why I think many people and myself included would argue for more temperate language than the fire and fury kind of thing.”