I respectfully ask you to cosponsor the North Korea Intelligence Enhancement Act, which would require the Director of National Intelligence to establish an “integration cell” within the U.S. intelligence community to streamline and synchronize the collection and dissemination of intelligence on North Korea so that U.S. national security policymakers have the best information possible upon which to base decisions.
Of all the national security challenges that the United States confronts, perhaps no threat is more serious than the one posed by North Korea.
As its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs continue to advance, North Korea poses a growing threat to the U.S. homeland. North Korea also poses an immediate threat to our ally South Korea and the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in that country, and to our ally Japan and the 50,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
Since 2006, North Korea has tested a nuclear device five times, most recently in September 2016. The primary goal of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is to develop a warhead that is sufficiently small to be mounted on a ballistic missile. North Korea has also demonstrated significant, even startling, progress in its various missile programs, as evidenced by the April 15, 2017 military parade in Pyongyang that featured multiple missile systems that U.S. officials may not have been aware of. Since 2014, North Korea has conducted close to 50 ballistic missile launches. North Korea has the fourth largest military in the world, which is capable of inflicting serious damage on South Korea, its other neighbors, and U.S. forces in the region.
The U.S. policy approach toward North Korea must be comprehensive and carefully calibrated, given that miscalculation could result in armed conflict, possibly involving the use of nuclear weapons, and cause catastrophic loss of life.
To be effective, the strategy crafted and carried out by U.S. policymakers must be informed by the best possible intelligence on North Korea’s intentions and capabilities. North Korea is an extremely difficult intelligence target. It is a secretive society where dissent is severely punished, making the recruitment of human intelligence sources inside the country exceptionally challenging. The U.S. government does not have an embassy or other meaningful physical presence in Pyongyang from which to gather information. High-level defectors from North Korea who have relevant intelligence about the regime are few and far between.
Given the importance of reliable and robust intelligence to the ultimate success of our policy toward North Korea, my bill would require the Director of National Intelligence to promptly create a DPRK integration cell within the intelligence community (IC) to streamline, synthesize, and synchronize intelligence on DPRK. The IC consists of 16 federal organizations under the coordination of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, such as the Central Intelligence Agency; the Defense Intelligence Agency; the National Reconnaissance Office; and intelligence departments for each of the military services, the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Energy. The cell would be led by a member of the Senior Intelligence Service who reports to the DNI.
Specifically, the integration cell would seek to:
ensure that the U.S. government is collecting the best intelligence possible on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, missile programs, weapons proliferation activities, efforts to evade U.N. sanctions, and other nefarious activities;
ensure that the resulting intelligence products are being disseminated to the appropriate federal policymakers in the most efficient way possible so they can inform decision-making;
ensure that we identify critical gaps in the existing intelligence and work to fill those gaps;
oversee collection and dissemination of intelligence about whether other countries are complying with their sanctions-related obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions related to North Korea.