Coats to North Korea: ‘Some of us have been around long enough to be skeptical’

Dan Coats shares his opinions on Trump and North Korea Wednesday. Didi Martinez | Digital Managing Editor

Didi Martinez | Digital Managing Editor

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats says he remains “skeptical” of Kim Jong Un’s upcoming talks with President Donald Trump, citing what he sees as time lost through concessions and broken promises over the years.

The former U.S. Senator and ambassador to Germany spoke at Baylor University on Wednesday ahead of a speaking engagement at an intelligence conference in Austin.

Coats was appointed as the fifth director of the agency by Trump last January and has since been tasked with providing the president with daily intelligence briefings. He said that on Tuesday his intelligence team met with Trump for over an hour to catch the president up to speed on the latest developments abroad.

Coats said the intelligence community is non-political, but that there is “a lot of turmoil going on is Washington.” Still, this hasn’t left Coats out of the political realm as he has become a leading voice in the ongoing threats presented by North Korea.

“North Korea will be among the most volatile and confrontational WMD threats to the United States over the next year,” Coats said in an on the record assessment of threats abroad.

As Trump prepares to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Coats’ evaluation of possible negotiations have become even more prevalent.

“That if they just want to talk or if they just want to buy time, we’ve seen that movie and we’re not gonna do that again,” Coats said. “Maybe we want to look at a different approach and actually, we have a different approach now because what we’re saying is commitment to denuclearize has to be the first issue addressed, not the last issue to be addressed.”

Coats pointed to experience as a factor to consider as the country moves forward with talking to North Korea. The 74-year-old intel officer pointed to a failed six-year effort in working with the rogue state in the early 2000s as reason enough to go into negotiations with caution.

At the event, which was held in the McClinton Auditorium at the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, Coats said keeping up with emerging technology has become a “challenge” for the intelligence community.

“We have to stay ahead of the game,” Coats said. “This is why we are looking at young people. Those kinds of skills are coming out of the younger generation.”

Indeed, the director made various references to the DNI’s career’s website as a place for Baylor students to start considering a job in the field.

“I came to Baylor because I thought this was a rich ground for people who have a balanced view of who they are,” Coats said. “…to provide the leadership we need.”

Bringing the leader to campus was an effort undertaken through the work of the Baylor Ambassadors, who lobby on behalf of the university in Washington D.C. and Austin.

Kyle senior and Baylor Ambassador’s president Nik Fisher said they were able to get Coats to arrive in Waco through various contacts within Baylor’s Office of Government Relations.

“We are just very thankful that he was able to stop by and hopefully inspire and open some minds on Baylor’s campus,” Fisher said.