North Korea close to nuke that could hit US: CIA chief

North Korea close to nuke that could hit US: CIA chief

North Korea close to nuke that could hit US: CIA chief

The United States should assume Kim Jong Un's regime is "on the cusp" of getting a nuclear missile capable of striking U.S. targets and work to prevent this, the head of the CIA said on Oct. 19.

CIA director Mike Pompeo said President Donald Trump is determined to prevent North Korea from making the breakthrough "whether it happens on Tuesday or a month from Tuesday."

Both Pompeo and U.S. National Security Adviser HR McMaster said Trump would still prefer to use sanctions and diplomacy to force Kim to come to the table to discuss disarmament.

But, speaking to a Washington policy forum, both also warned that the use of U.S. military force remains an option to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring a long-range nuclear missile.

"They are close enough now in their capabilities that from a U.S. policy perspective we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving that objective," Pompeo said.

Pompeo said U.S. intelligence had kept close tabs on the North Korean program in the past, but that its missile expertise is now growing too quickly to be sure when it will succeed.

"The president is prepared to ensure that Kim Jong Un doesn't have the capacity to hold America at risk. By military force if necessary."

North Korea, meanwhile, has sent a letter to Australia’s parliament, warning it is a nuclear power and will not be cowed by Trump’s threats to destroy it, according to a copy of the letter published in an Australian newspaper on Oct. 20.

“If Trump thinks that he would bring the DPRK, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat, it will be a big miscalculation and an expression of ignorance,” said a facsimile of the letter, published by the Sydney Morning Herald and verified by Australia’s Foreign Ministry.