Even as President Donald Trump eyes a second summit meeting late next month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, top intelligence officials told Senators on Tuesday that there is little evidence the Pyongyang regime is going to suddenly drop its nuclear weapons program, something the President continues to publicly hold out as a distinct possibility.
"North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival," said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as he told Senators that Kim Jong Un is 'unlikely to completely give up' his nation's nuclear weapons.
"We continue to observe activity inconsistent with full denuclearization," Coats wrote in a report to Senators. "In addition, North Korea has for years underscored its commitment to nuclear arms, including through an order in 2018 to mass-produce weapons and an earlier law — and constitutional change — affirming the country’s nuclear status."
The Intelligence Community review is at odds with President Trump's public declarations about U.S. efforts to get Kim Jong Un to denuclearize.
Mr. Trump has said he will meet with the North Korean leader in late February - no date or location has yet been announced - as the President has argued he is making progress.
"Pyongyang has not conducted any nuclear-capable missile or nuclear tests in more than a year," Coats said in his testimony, a point that President Trump has repeatedly noted in the aftermath of his June 2018 summit with Kim.
Despite the President's optimism, the Intelligence Community remains unconvinced.
"North Korea retains its WMD capabilities, and the IC continues to assess that it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities," Coats and his colleagues told Senators on Tuesday.