US President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that the United States will never accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state. Photograph: (AFP)
Contrary to the Obama administration's policy, James Clapper said that at best the US could hope for a cap on Pyongyang's nuclear capability
Underscoring conflicting view in the Obama administration on the policy regarding denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, the director of US National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday said that he did not think the policy that Washington had stuck to was realistic.
He said the US policy of trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons "is probably a lost cause" and the best they could hope for is a cap on the country's nuclear capability.
However, the US state department maintained that the policy on the North had unchanged and the US will continue to seek the "verifiable denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula.
Disagreeing with the US spy chief, the department spokesman John Kirby said he had not seen Clapper's remarks but insisted that Washington did not believe denuclearisation was a lost cause.
Clapper said he got a good taste of how the world looks from North Korea's viewpoint when he went to Pyongyang on a mission in 2014 to secure the release of two Americans held there.
"They are under siege and they are very paranoid, so the notion of giving up their nuclear capability, whatever it is, is a non-starter with them. The best we could probably hope for is some sort of a cap, but they are not going to do that just because we ask them. There’s going to have to be some significant inducements," Clapper said.
Pyongyang has persisted with its missile and nuclear weapons programs despite strong international sanctions.
(WION with inputs from Reuters)