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Question of the Day
Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week that his agency has its doubts that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons under the recent Beijing agreement.
A little-noticed portion of Gen. Maples’ prepared statement appears to throw cold water on the Feb. 13 nuclear deal worked out in Beijing in six-party talks with representatives from the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Russia and Japan.
The vaguely worded agreement calls for North Korea to shut down its reactor complex at Yongbyon as a first step toward disclosing and dismantling its nuclear facilities.
“While North Korea may agree to give up plutonium production, major uncertainties surround the conditions under which the North would entirely abandon its nuclear weapons capability, or of the likelihood of the North transferring nuclear weapons-related technology abroad,” Gen. Maples said in the statement, which was updated from earlier testimony in January to reflect the Beijing accord.
North Korea set off its first underground nuclear test Oct. 9 and is demanding to be treated by other nations as a nuclear power.
China ASAT threat
Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, also updated his testimony this week on the threat posed to U.S. satellites by China’s secret Jan. 11 test of an anti-satellite weapon.
Gen. Maples said in his prepared remarks that the “anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon system .. destroyed an old Chinese weather satellite in orbit.”
Gen. Maples said building space weapons is “financially taxing” for foreign states and that “most countries other than China assessed to be pursuing these capabilities are not expected to acquire them within the next few years.”
Thomas Fingar, the deputy Director of National Intelligence for analysis, who U.S. officials say is known for holding pro-China views and who has sought to play down Chinese military developments in intelligence analyses, said at the same Senate hearing that China “will continue to pursue space and counter-space capabilities, as they demonstrated by the launch of the SE-19” the designation for the new space weapon.
Retired Vice Adm. Michael McConnell, the new Director of National Intelligence, made no mention of the Chinese ASAT weapon test in his prepared testimony and included only one paragraph in his 18-page statement on the Chinese military buildup, an omission other intelligence officials attributed to Mr. Fingar’s influence.
Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his wife, Joyce, were the toast of the town at the Hoover Institution’s annual reception at the Willard Hotel on Tuesday.
By Steve King
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