Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats directly contradicted President Trump’s claims that there is “no longer a nuclear threat” from North Korea, saying “it’s unlikely” the country will ever fully denuclearize.
“We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities,” Coats told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee during the panel’s worldwide threats hearing.
The country is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” he continued.
Tuesday’s intelligence assessment appears to throw cold water on the possibility that the Trump administration can reach its stated goal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
DNI Dan Coats tells Congress: "We currently believe North Korea will seek to retain WMD capabilities & is unlikely to give up nuclear weapons & production capabilities, b/c its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival." pic.twitter.com/qxZzae2lLV
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 29, 2019
Coats also said that the intelligence community found that Iran is not currently seeking to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities.
“We continue to assess that Iran is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device,” their assessment reads.
The assessment warns that Iranian officials are threatening to begin building up the country’s nuclear capabilities if Tehran “does not gain the tangible trade and investment benefits it expected” from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an Obama-era deal that Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year.
“However, Iranian officials have publicly threatened to reverse some of Iran’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commitments — and resume nuclear activities that the JCPOA limits — if Iran does not gain the tangible trade and investment benefits it expected from the deal,” the assessment reads.
Trump, who repeatedly trashed the agreement as “the worst deal ever” and “defective at its core,” claimed that if the deal remained in place, Iran “will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”
Despite Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA agreement, the deal remains largely intact as a result of ongoing support from European countries who were part of the deal.
When pressed on the matter Tuesday by Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), CIA Director Gina Haspel said Iran is “making some preparations that would increase their ability to take a step back” from the agreement since they are not receiving the benefits from the deal that they had hoped.
“Technically, they are in compliance but we do see them debating among themselves,” she added.
CIA Chief Haspel says Iran is considering steps that would “lessen their adherence” to the nuke deal but they are technically still in compliance. They have failed to realize the hoped-for economic benefits, she added.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) January 29, 2019
Despite repeated claims by the Trump administration that ISIS has been defeated, US intelligence assesses that the terror group “very likely will continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and Western adversaries, including the United States.”
The Worldwide Threat Assessment, released by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats Tuesday, also states that with the recent loss of territory, “ISIS will seek to exploit Sunni grievances, societal instability, and stretched security forces to regain territory in Iraq and Syria in the long term.”
Coats told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday that ISIS “has returned to its guerrilla warfare roots while continuing to plot attacks and direct its supporters worldwide.”
But he also clearly stated that the group maintains a presence in Iraq and Syria.
“ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria,” he said.