Obama intel chief: Trump should tone down rhetoric on North Korea

Greg Nash

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Tuesday called for U.S. officials to tone down their rhetoric on North Korea after President Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” should Pyongyang continue with its threats.

“We need to tone down the rhetoric of regime change and all this. As desirable as that may be, all that does is amp up the paranoia,” Clapper told Anderson Cooper on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

{mosads}Clapper, who served under President Barack Obama, agreed with remarks Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made last week, in which he tampered down rhetoric and assured North Koreans that the U.S. does not seek a regime change.

“We do not seek a regime change. We do not seek a collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula,” Tillerson said at the time. “We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel. And we’re trying to convey to the North Koreans, we are not your enemy. We’re not your threat, but you’re presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond.” 

Trump, however, appeared to ramp up his rhetoric against the country earlier Tuesday, issuing a stern warning after reports said Pyongyang has expanded its nuclear capabilities to include a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit onto a missile.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf club.

“He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Clapper said the difference between Trump and Tillerson’s “discordant, inconsistent voices” on the matter do not help the heightened tension between the two countries.

North Korea has repeatedly tested intercontinental ballistic missiles in recent months, with some analysts saying they could reach parts of the continental U.S. 

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to sanction Pyongyang for its missile tests.

Tags Barack Obama Rex Tillerson
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