Kim Jong-un not mad but a 'rational actor', CIA says

'There’s a clarity of purpose in what Kim Jong-un has done'

Narjas Zatat
Friday 06 October 2017 18:44 BST
US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump (Getty/AFP )

Kim Jong-un, who Donald Trump recently referred to as a “madman” has been rebranded a “rational actor” by senior CIA officials.

The North Korean dictator is infamous for executing his own officers, threatening the US with nuclear war and increasing hostile long-range missile tests – the latest of which prompted harsh new international sanctions by the UN.

According to experts, his actions are a far cry from those of an incoherent leader; instead they amount to a cogent strategy which he has employed in order to preserve his regime.

“There’s a clarity of purpose in what Kim Jong-un has done,” said Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s Korea Mission Centre, at an agency conference in George Washington University on Wednesday.

“Waking up one morning and deciding he wants to ‘nuke’ Los Angeles is not something Kim Jong-un is likely to do,” he continued, in a statement recorded by CNN.

“He wants to rule for a long time and die peacefully in his own bed."

In 2013, Mr Kim executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek who state media called a "traitor for all ages". A report from the South Korean Institute for National Security Strategy think tank claims that as many as 340 people were ordered to be executed - many of whom were senior government officers. However, purging the country of political dissenters seems to be a calculated move motivated by self-interest, rather than emotional impulse.

"The last person who wants conflict on the peninsula is Kim Jong-un. We have a tendency in this country to underestimate the conservatism that runs in these authoritarian regimes,” Mr Lee concluded.

These sentiments are at odds with the combative language used by Donald Trump to describe the rogue state and its leader.

The US president previously called Mr Kim a “little rocket man” and a “madman” on Twitter, and threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the US is “forced to defend itself or its allies”.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been resolutely pursuing diplomatic relations through direct talks with Pyongyang, and Mr Trump’s aggressive, directed statements mean the messages issuing from the US are confusingly mixed.

“North Korea is clearly testing the patience of the US and international community,” Michael Collins, a deputy assistant director at the CIA, told CNN.

“With each increasing escalation, they’re raising the threshold for the United States and others to accept or press against that.”

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