North Korea is unlikely to use its nuclear weapons unless Kim Jong-Il’s regime feels its survival is at stake, US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said Thursday.
On the proliferation front, North Korea has sold ballistic missiles to Iran and other Middle Eastern nations, and helped Syria to build a nuclear reactor, he said in testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Addressing intense speculation about Kim’s health, Blair said the veteran ruler “probably suffered a stroke in August that incapacitated him for several weeks” and hindered his ability to operate as actively as before the stroke.
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“However, his recent public activities suggest his health has improved significantly, and we assess he is making key decisions.”
In terms of its overall menace to US interests, “Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions and proliferation behavior threaten to destabilize East Asia,” Blair said, presenting the US intelligence community’s annual “threat assessment.”