James Clapper on New Book "Facts & Fears": North Koreans Hoped For A "Breakthrough" In 2014


James Clapper talked about his book, Facts and Fears, and the 2016 presidential campaign on CSPAN's Washington Journal. Clapper is the former Director of National Intelligence under President Obama and has held several other key positions within the U.S Intelligence Community.

He spoke about how President Obama dealt with the North Koreans before President Trump took office. Obama told Trump when he took office that North Korea would be his biggest problem.

"I was the first Cabinet-level American official to go to North Korea since Madeline Albright in the Clinton administration in 2000, and while the mission was successful, we got our two people out, I let a bit frustrated because I thought we lost an opportunity to promote more dialogue," Clapper said about his November 2014 visit to Pyongyang.

"North Koreans, when I arrived were anticipating, to use their word, a 'breakthrough' leading to a change in the relationship. My first talking point I was instructed to render to the North Koreans was 'You must denuclearize before we'll talk to you.' Well, that was a non-starter for the North Koreans. They weren't about, at that time, to do that. They considered the nuclear capability their ticket to survival," Clapper continued. "They had gone to school with Moammar Qaddafi, the leader of Libya who negotiated away his weapons of mass destruction and they noted it didn't turn out so well for him."

"I think we lost an opportunity there to engage with the North Koreans, that is why I have been supportive of this summit," he said. "It struck me when I was there that the North Koreans were clearly stuck on their narrative, and the U.S. was kind of stuck on its narrative. And the only way this narrative will change is if the bigger partner makes the move to change it. And that's kind of what is happening here."

"In prior administrations, there would be a series of presidential daily brief articles on North Korea," he said when asked about how he would prepare Trump for the meeting. "Perhaps reading materials, although I don't think President Trump is big on reading and studying, but there would be a multi-mode effort to try to prepare the principle and his staff"

Hat tip: Washington Watch

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