The CIA has created a dedicated unit to monitor Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs amid reignited fears that North Korea’s sixth nuke test is imminent, and claims that the agency was planning a biochem attack against Kim Jong-un.
“The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has established a Korea Mission Center to harness the full resources, capabilities, and authorities of the Agency in addressing the nuclear and ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea,” the CIA said in a statement.
“The new Mission Center draws on experienced officers from across the Agency and integrates them in one entity to bring their expertise and creativity to bear against the North Korea target.”
The agency has failed to specify where the center will be located, but the statement noted that a “veteran CIA operations officer” was selected to act as head of the center and as an Assistant Director for Korea.
The new unit, the CIA said, will work closely with the US intelligence community to monitor the North Korean threat.
“Creating the Korea Mission Center allows us to more purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” said CIA Director Mike Pompeo. “It also reflects the dynamism and agility that the CIA brings to evolving national security challenges.”
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The CIA announcement comes shortly after North Korean ambassador to the UK, Choe Il, confirmed that Pyongyang will conduct its sixth nuclear test whenever it wants, disregarding the potential threat of a pre-emptive strike by Washington.
“I can say that the nuclear test will be conducted at the place and time as decided by our supreme leader, Kim Jong-un,” Choe told Sky News as tensions around the Korean Peninsula escalates with the Japanese, South Korean and US fleets all conducting naval drills in the region.
Washington, Beijing, and Seoul have already threatened to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang if the country attempts further nuclear or long-range missile tests. Last month, North Korea conducted two failed mid-range missile tests.
The North, however, defends its right to develop nuclear and ballistic technology as a deterrent against the US and its regional allies.
“Our nuclear power is our sovereign right. It is the only way to protect the peace of the Korean Peninsula and the region,” Choe told Sky on Wednesday. “The US cannot attack us first… If the US moves an inch, then we are ready to turn to ashes any available strategic assets of the US.”
The creation of a CIA mission center dedicated specifically to North Korea also comes just days after Pyongyang threatened to launch an “anti-terrorist” attack against the US and South Korean intelligence agencies for their alleged plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Last week, North Korea’s Ministry of State Security claimed that a CIA-supported terrorist cell managed to infiltrate the secretive state with the goal to assassinate their supreme leader through the use of “biochemical substances.”
“We will ferret out and mercilessly destroy to the last one the terrorists of the US CIA” and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, North Korea’s Ministry of State Security said in a statement reported by KCNA.
A “Korean-style anti-terrorist attack will be commenced from this moment to sweep away the intelligence and plot-breeding organizations of the US imperialists and the puppet clique.”
South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in has vowed to review the decision to deploy the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), which was installed just weeks before his Tuesday’s election victory.
To defuse tensions in the region, Moon has promised to “negotiate sincerely” with the US and China over the controversial US missile defense system allegedly deployed to thwart potential attacks by North Korea. The new president even said that he would be willing to meet Kim Jong-un if it meant bringing lasting peace.