CIA opens new center to monitor North Korea

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The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has announced the establishment of a Korea Mission Center, which it says will focus on countering military threats coming from North Korea.

“Creating the Korea Mission Center allows us to more purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It also reflects the dynamism and agility that CIA brings to evolving national security challenges,” he added.

The mission center would be run by “experienced officers from across the Agency” under the leadership of a veteran officer as  the new Assistant Director for Korea, the agency said.

The is the CIA’s eleventh center. Mission Center for Africa, Mission Center for Counter-intelligence, Mission Center for Counter-terrorism and Mission Center for Near East are some of the other centers.

Dedicating a center to a country instead of a region shows the North’s importance to the administration of President Donald Trump, which has been locked in a standoff with Pyongyang over its development of ballistic missiles and nuclear deterrents.

“Just as the threats facing our nation are dynamic, so too must the CIA continue to evolve to address them,” said CIA spokesperson Heather Fritz Horniak.

Washington has become furious over Pyongyang’s unwillingness to drop its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

The Trump administration has on many occasions threatened the North’s leader Kim Jung-un with a military response to new tests, sending warships and a nuclear submarine to Korean waters.

Trump even ordered two major attacks in Syria and Afghanistan last month, both of them viewed as stern warnings to the North.

North Korean leaders, in response, have increased their missile tests and even hinted at a new nuclear test in the coming weeks. They have also warned the US and its regional allies like South Korea, Australia and Japan of a strong military response in case of any invasion.

The mission center’s establishment came on the same day as the South’s new president, Moon Jae-in, was declared president in a decisive election victory.

Moon, who has faced criticism from opponents in his country for being anti-American, reassured them that he was on the “same page” as Trump.

Pompeo traveled to South Korea for what the US embassy there described as an “internal meeting” earlier this month.

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