N. Korea may resume nuclear, ICBM testing: intelligence chief

April 14, 2021

The top U.S. intelligence official on Wednesday maintained that North Korea may resume its nuclear and long-range missile testing as part of efforts to drive wedges between the United States and its allies.

Avril Haines, director of national intelligence (DNI), testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“For its part, North Korea may take aggressive and potentially destabilizing actions to reshape its security environment and will seek to drive wedges between the United States and its allies,” she said at the Senate hearing.

“These efforts could include the resumption of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing,” she added.

Her remarks come a day after her office released an annual assessment on global threats, which suggested North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might resume its nuclear and ICBM testing this year.

“Kim may be considering whether to resume long-range missile or nuclear testing this year to try to force the United States to deal with him on Pyongyang’s terms,” the report said.

Gen. David VanHerck, commander of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, highlighted the possibility of the North resuming long-range missile launches “in the near future” to test its recently paraded ICBM.

“In October 2020, North Korea unveiled a new ICBM considerably larger and presumably more capable than the systems they tested in 2017, further increasing the threat posed to our homeland,” the Air Force general said in a written statement submitted to House Armed Services Committee before a hearing.

“The North Korean regime has also indicated that it is no longer bound by the unilateral nuclear and ICBM testing moratorium announced in 2018, suggesting that Kim Jong-un may begin flight testing an improved ICBM design in the near future,” he added.

North Korea has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since November 2017, but declared in 2019 that it no longer feels bound by such restrictions.

The country fired two short-range ballistic missiles last month, resuming its short-range ballistic missile testing after a yearlong hiatus.

Haines grouped North Korea with three other countries — China, Russia and Iran — that pose threats to the United States, along with global terrorism organizations.

Still, the DNI noted the threats posed by China marked the “unparalleled priority” for the U.S. intelligence community.