White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that North Korea policy prevails despite earlier comments from the U.S. director of national intelligence regarding policy. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Remarks made by the U.S. director of national intelligence on current U.S. North Korea policy drew a response from the White House on Thursday.
James Clapper had said earlier in the week the "notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause" while replying to a question regarding the role negotiations or diplomacy may play in incentivizing North Korea to give up weapons.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters the remarks were a "reference to the fact that [Clapper] did not anticipate that the strategy we have now would prompt the North Koreans to give up their nuclear program before the president leaves office."
But that doesn't mean President Barack Obama plans to find an alternative strategy until the end of his term, according to the White House.
"Over the longer term, we're going to continue to work with the rest of the international community to apply additional pressure to the North Korean regime to get them to come into compliance with a range of international obligations, including a variety of U.N. Security Council resolutions," Earnest said, adding changes in policy with the next president will be "up to them."
Earnest also said countries the United States "don't have the warmest of relations" with, including Russia, are cooperating on the sanctions goal.
While Clapper may have been referring to North Korea's position strictly within the context of diplomatic strategy, his comments are being interpreted more broadly and as a criticism of current policy.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN that he was "surprised" when he heard Clapper's comments.
"I have great respect for Director Clapper. I think he's a real straight shooter. But this is not the policy of the administration. It's certainly not my view either," Schiff said.
"I don't think that we can, in any way, suggest that the North Koreans, that their position on nuclear weapons is somehow inevitable and unchangeable. That, I think, would pose a real danger not only on the peninsula and to our allies, but it sends the message to other potential proliferators that, if you stick to your nuclear guns long enough, the rest of the world will just come to accept it," he said.