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US intelligence warns of nuclear coercion

Top intel officials reviewed multiple scenarios hoping to predict Pyongyang’s actions in the coming years

The US Director of National Intelligence has claimed that North Korea will seek to use its nuclear arsenal to “intimidate” other nations in order to advance its goals over the next decade. The DPRK insists its atomic weapons are solely for defensive purposes, and has repeatedly stressed its right to develop its armed forces.

The office of DNI Avril Haines issued a new national intelligence estimate on Thursday, looking at several possible courses of action North Korea could take between now and 2030. While officials deemed the chance for a full-blown nuclear strike highly unlikely, they argued that Pyongyang would leverage its warheads to threaten regional states.

“We assess that through 2030, Kim Jong-un most likely will continue to pursue a strategy of coercion, potentially including non-nuclear lethal attacks, aimed at advancing the North’s goals of intimidating its neighbors, extracting concessions, and bolstering the regime’s military credentials domestically,” the assessment said.


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The report went on to claim that the DPRK is confident that such “coercion” could yield various benefits in the political, economic and military spheres, but did not elaborate on what goals North Korea might seek to achieve.

Though Washington continues to call on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons, the country has rejected that demand as a non-starter. Last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a law declaring that the DPRK is a nuclear weapons state and would “never give up” its bombs, adding that the move is “irreversible.” 

While North Korea has stated that it would only consider the use of nuclear weapons under extreme circumstances, the 2022 law relaxed that policy somewhat, authorizing nuclear retaliation for attacks on its top leadership. 


US officials have repeatedly warned against any future North Korean nuclear tests, predicting that it would carry out a trial on several occasions over the last year. Those forecasts have yet to come true, but Pyongyang has conducted a flurry of weapons tests in recent months, including several intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The demonstrations have come amid regular joint military drills by the US and South Korea, which the North has condemned as  rehearsals for invasion.

READ MORE: Blinken urges China to pressure North Korea

June 23, 2023 at 10:29AM


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