Washington: China, which has the real leverage over the North Koreans than anyone else, appears to be frustrated with the belligerent rhetoric of Pyongyang`s new leader Kim Jong Un, a top US intelligence official said on Thursday.
"I think probably if anyone has real leverage over the North Koreans, it is China. China is under new leadership, and the indications that we have are that China is itself rather frustrated with the behaviour and the belligerent rhetoric of Kim Jong Un," James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Clapper was responding to questions from US lawmakers on the recent provocative behaviour of North Korea.
"I don`t think really he has much of an end game other than to somehow elicit recognition from the world, and specifically, most importantly the US, of North Korea`s arrival on an international scene as a nuclear power, and that that entitles him to negotiation and to accommodation, and presumably for aid," he said.
CIA director John Brennan said that since Kim Jong Un has not been in power all that long, the US doesn`t have an extended track record for him like they have on his father and grandfather.
"And that`s why we are watching this very closely and to see whether or not what he is doing is consistent with past patterns of North Korea behaviour," he said.
"This is where I think the Intelligence Committee really needs to be able to maintain a very sort of clear focus on what`s going on in the region there. And again, looking at China and the issue of North Korea, I think China has a vested interest in stability in that area as well and has probably more influence than anybody else over Pyongyang," Brennan said.
Earlier in his remarks, Congressman Mike Rogers, the chairman of Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said a nuclear North Korea continues its bellicose behaviour, threatening American allies and interests in the region, as it hopes to distract international attention from its expanding nuclear ambitions.
He commended US efforts so far to show support for allies and display strong leadership in the region. Ranking member Rupersberger said North Korea is proving, yet again, its determination to destabilise the region with overblown, irresponsible and dangerous actions.
"The destabilising potential of North Korea and its willingness to export proliferation cannot be underestimated. But we also know their pattern of ramping up tensions in order to extract concessions. We need to find a way to break this cycle. China needs to be involved," he said.
Clapper told lawmakers that North Korea has already demonstrated capabilities that threaten the US and the security environment in East Asia.
"It announced in February that it conducted its third nuclear test, vowed to restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, and last year about this time displayed what appears to be a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile," he said.
"We believe Yongbyon has already taken initial steps toward fielding this system, although it remains untested. It launched two vehicles to put a satellite in orbit in December, thus demonstrating its long-range missile technology," he said.
"These developments have been accompanied with extremely belligerent, aggressive public rhetoric toward the United States and South Korea. We continue to carefully monitor developments in anticipation of North Korea`s next provocative step," Clapper said.