Pentagon: North Korea’s Kim likely still ‘in full control’ of country
The military’s No. 2 uniformed official on Wednesday said he has no reason not to assume that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still “in full control” of the country.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten said military intelligence doesn’t confirm or deny reports that indicate Kim is in poor health following a recent procedure.
“In the intel, I don’t have anything to confirm or deny anything along those lines, so I assume that Kim Jong Un is still in full control of the Korean nuclear force and the Korean military forces,” Hyten told reporters at the Pentagon.
“I have no reason not to assume that,” he added.
Questions have been swirling after news reports indicated Kim is in grave condition following cardiovascular surgery last week.
The Chinese and South Korean governments, however, say Kim appears to be handling state affairs as usual.
Still, Kim’s health is on the radar of U.S. intelligence, with national security adviser Robert O’Brien earlier this week acknowledging that the community is keeping a close watch on reports about the dictator.
“We’re monitoring these reports very closely,” O’Brien said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends.”
Most recently, speculation about the 36-year-old Kim’s health emerged after he missed last week’s Day of the Sun celebration, which he has not missed since taking power in 2011. The national holiday marks the birth of Kim’s grandfather and North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung.