CIA expert calls Kim Jong-un is a 'rational actor', says North Korea thrives on confrontation

Washington: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a rational politician and the US needs to understand that to deal with the nuclear-armed country, a Central Intelligence Agency's expert on Korea has said.

File image of Kim Jong-un. Reuters

File image of Kim Jong-un. Reuters

"Beyond the bluster, Kim Jong-un is a rational actor," said Yong Suk Lee, the deputy assistant director of the CIA's Korea Mission Center. "We have a tendency in this country to underestimate his conservatism. He wants to rule for a long time and die in his own bed," Lee said at a conference on the CIA at George Washington University.

US politicians including President Donald Trump have repeatedly painted Pyongyang's strongman as irrational and crazy. But Lee said Kim's focus is to stay in power, as shown by the brutal murder in Malaysia in February of his half brother Kim Jong-Nam, which has been blamed on Pyongyang agents. "All politics is local," he said of the North Korean milieu.

The country's long history of being surrounded by greater powers, too, means it is constantly on the defensive, and its leaders play that up. "North Korea ia a political organism that thrives on confrontation," Lee said.

But Kim's fierce defense of his position and his combativeness against Washington does not mean he will act irrationally now that he has the capacity to fire a nuclear tipped missile at the US.

"Waking up and deciding to nuke Los Angeles is not in his interest to survive," he said.

Updated Date: Oct 04, 2017 22:46 PM

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