Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning where he reiterated the intelligence community's assessment that North Korea will never disarm.
Coats acknowledged that North Korea has made some public gestures that imply good faith but, at the end of the day, they've also seen evidence that the north's weapons program is still active.
Coats said North Korea has halted its provocative behavior related to weapons of mass destruction, has not conducted any nuclear missile tests in more than a year and has dismantled some of its nuclear infrastructure. [...]
“Having said that, we currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival,” Coats said.
“Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization,” he said.
In other words, military (and some commercial) satellites have seen everything the North Koreans are doing.
Trump recently accepted an invitation to attend another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but it probably goes without saying that no one should expect their next meeting will be any more substantive than their first meeting was.
The clock is ticking toward the next presidential election and we've been given plenty of reason to think Kim Jong-un will easily string Trump along with vague promises in exchange for legitimacy until he's out of office in 2021.
Democratic presidential contenders should take this problem seriously because it's going to be their problem if they win. And there are no easy answers.