UPDATE : 2019.7.18 THU 11:08
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N. Korea's nuclear program 'not bargaining chips': U.S. intel official

A U.S. intelligence official hinted Friday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is unlikely to negotiate away his nuclear weapons program.

The remark by Markus Garlauskas, an intelligence officer for North Korea at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, comes as tensions have heightened over Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"These are not bargaining chips for Kim," he told a symposium hosted by the Institute for Corean-American Studies. North Korea's constitution also suggests that Kim does not intend to negotiate them away at any price, he added.

The assessment is in line with U.S. President Donald Trump's stated belief that "talking" will not lead to North Korea's denuclearization. Instead, he has threatened to take military action against the regime, saying "only one thing will work."

Trump's harsh rhetoric came in the wake of North Korea's recent ballistic missile tests and sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September. In turn, the Kim regime threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean and shoot down U.S. bombers, even in international air space.

"Kim may judge, once he can clearly demonstrate a credible nuclear threat to the U.S. mainland, that this will give him the deterrent necessary to ensure their regime survival," Garlauskas said.

He could also think it will give him leverage to negotiate a peace treaty to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, stop South Korea-U.S. military exercises and even kick out U.S. troops from South Korea, the official said. (Yonhap)

Lee Sam-sun  edt@koreapost.com

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