- Joe Raedle/Getty Images
CIA Director Mike Pompeo dropped hints at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday that the US was looking into regime change in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea.
“It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Pompeo said, according to CNN.
“So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right? Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart,” Pompeo said, referring to North Korea’s nuclear-weapons capacity.
Pompeo’s talk echoes statements early in Donald Trump’s presidency that the US would take care of North Korea unilaterally if needed. In May, the US had two aircraft carriers off the Korean Peninsula, and senior administration officials have declared the policy of “strategic patience” dead.
Earlier this year, reports of US Navy SEALs training with their South Korean counterparts popped up in South Korean media. South Korea has been preparing a “decapitation” force with the aim of eliminating Kim and the country’s nuclear command-and-control system.
But no strike on North Korea ever took place. And despite Trump tweeting that a North Korean missile that could hit the US mainland would “never happen,” one was tested on July 4. Furthermore, the US had a clear shot at killing Kim when North Korea tested its intercontinental ballistic missile, but it opted not to strike.
- KCNA via Reuters
Pompeo said the CIA and Department of Defense had both been directed to draw up plans to accomplish what “ultimately needs to be achieved” in North Korea and that he was confident the US could take on “every piece” of the threat. North Korea has vast and hidden nuclear and conventional weaponry that the US has been reluctant to attempt to strike.
Because of the intense secrecy around the positions of possibly nuclear-armed missiles, any attack on North Korea would be unlikely to eliminate them all, risking a massive retaliation against populous cities in the region, like Seoul, South Korea.
“As for the regime, I am hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system,” Pompeo said, according to CNN. “The North Korean people I’m sure are lovely people and would love to see him go.”