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US Intelligence Contradicts Trump on N. Korea, Iran, IS Threats

2019-1-29

America’s national intelligence chief says North Korea is unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons. The statement contradicts President Donald Trump’s claim of progress on denuclearization.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats spoke to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

He said “we currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.”

Trump and Kim met in Singapore last June. The two promised to work toward the complete denuclearization of the divided Korean Peninsula. But progress has been limited.

The U.S. has demanded full information from North Korea about its nuclear and missile sites. North Korea is seeking an end to economic restrictions against it. The government also wants a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War.

Trump is planning a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February. Trump met with North Korea’s nuclear issues negotiator Kim Yong Chol on January 18. He said afterwards that the two sides had made “a lot of progress” on denuclearization.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with the delegation that had visited the United States, in Pyongyang, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, Jan. 23, 2019.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with the delegation that had visited the United States, in Pyongyang, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, Jan. 23, 2019.

Iran and Islamic State

Coats met with the Senate to present the yearly Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Committee. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray were also there.

Coats told the committee that Iran “is not currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities.” Iran had agreed to give up its nuclear activities in exchange for trade and investment from the West.

Last year, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated earlier under President Barack Obama. Trump called it “the worst deal ever.” And Iran is threatening to build up its nuclear activities if the country does not gain from the promised trade and investment.

The report also said the Islamic State group “remains a terrorist and insurgent threat” inside Iraq. The terrorist group also operated in Syria where Trump has ordered a full withdrawal of American troops.

When asked for her assessment, CIA Director Gina Haspel said “They’re still dangerous.” She added that they still command “thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.”

A Syrian woman and child walk past the shuttered doors of a restaurant which was the site of a suicide attack targeting US-led coalition forces in the northern Syrian city of Manbij which killed four US servicemen the previous day on Jan. 17, 2019.
A Syrian woman and child walk past the shuttered doors of a restaurant which was the site of a suicide attack targeting US-led coalition forces in the northern Syrian city of Manbij which killed four US servicemen the previous day on Jan. 17, 2019.

Russia and China

Coats also spoke of Russia and China seeking to expand their reach around the world. He said, “Moscow’s relationship with Beijing is closer than it’s been in many decades.”

The intelligence report warned about Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies found last year that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump.

Coats told the committee that Russia and perhaps other countries will likely use social media and other means to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English with news reports from Reuters and the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

contradict - v. to say the opposite

assess - v. to make a judgement about something

retain - v. to continue to hold or use

regime - n. a form of government

key - n. something that is necessary

decade - n. a period of 10 years