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CIA Chief: N. Korea's Nuclear Program Aims to Defend - and Intimidate

CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaks on intelligence issues at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Jan. 23, 2018.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Tuesday North Korea's nuclear missile program is designed not only for self-defense, but for intimidation as well.

"Call it coercive," Pompeo said at an event hosted in Washington by the conservative research group the American Enterprise Institute.

Pompeo also said the intelligence agency believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would not only deploy nuclear weapons to remain in power, but to threaten to reunify the divided Korean Peninsula under his autocratic regime.

Pompeo added that Pyongyang is less than a year away from putting Americans at risk and said the country's next obvious move would be to develop the capability to launch multiple missiles concurrently.

"The logical next step would be to develop an arsenal of weapons that is not one, not a show piece ... but rather the capacity to deliver from multiple firings of these missiles simultaneously."

Pompeo said U.S. President Donald Trump has been focused on pursuing a diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis, but the CIA was working to give him a variety of other options.

"We're not quite where we need to be," Pompeo admitted. "Our mission is not complete but we have officers all around the world working diligently to make sure that we do everything we can to support the U.S. pressure campaign and to tighten the sanctions in such a way we have the opportunity to prevail" in the quest to achieve "the denuclearization of the peninsula."

North Korea has aggressively developed its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs in defiance of international sanctions.

A number of countries and international organizations have imposed a variety of financial and trade sanctions against Pyongyang, including China's decision to restrict oil and coal supplies to the country.

North Korea relies on imported fuel to keep its struggling economy afloat. Oil is also required for its intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear program.

Jeff Seldin contributed to this story.