CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Sunday that there is no “imminent” threat of North Korea attacking the U.S. with a nuclear weapon, but he still expects the country to continue developing its missile program even as other countries call on it to stop.
“There’s nothing imminent today,” Pompeo told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” asked what kind of threat the U.S. is facing. “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 and the investigation is going to treat it as such.”
Asked if that meant that he does not expect any future missile tests, Pompeo said he is “quite confident” that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un “will continue to try to develop a missile program, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there was another missile test.”
“What I’m talking about is I’ve heard folks talking about being on the cusp of a nuclear war,” he clarified. There is “no intelligence that would indicate that we’re in that place today,” he added.
Pompeo also defended President Donald Trump’s warning that North Korea, which has been in conflict with the United States since the start of the Korean War in 1950, would face “fire and fury” if it issued any more threats to the U.S., comments that were widely criticized last week as overheated and interpreted by some as threatening a preemptive nuclear attack.
“The president has made it very clear to the North Korean regime how America will respond if certain actions are taken,” Pompeo said. “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 continued. “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.”
Pompeo also said the intelligence community was not surprised by the recent news that North Korea is now capable of fitting a nuclear warhead on a missile.