CIA Director: The North Koreans Would Love To See Kim Jong Un Go

U.S. President Donald Trump almost always asks about North Korea, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said, adding the threat from Pyongyang "is at the front of his mind."

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday, Pompeo avoided stating a position for Washington on regime change, but said the administration was focused on separating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from his nation's nuclear arsenal.

"It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today," Pompeo said during a discussion moderated by conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.

"So from the administration's perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right?" Pompeo said. "Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart."

Pompeo said he was "hopeful" the U.S. could find a way to do that. He added that the U.S. intelligence community and the Defense Department were working on the issue and he was "confident the intelligence committee will present a wide range of options for the president about how we might go about that."

He added: "The North Korea people — I'm sure are lovely people — and would love to see him go as well. You know they don't live a very good life there."

Pompeo also noted that it wasn't clear what might follow on from a deposed Kim regime. "What's behind door number three?" he asked. A greater challenge, he said, lay in convincing other nations of the dangers of allowing Kim to continue his nuclear tests.

"I wasn't suggesting that was something we were working today to make happen tomorrow. But rather, to find a way to separate this fellow who day in and day out talks about the destruction of the West through the use of a nuclear armed missile," Reuters reported him as saying. "And to the extent we can convince not only the Chinese, but the Russians, the Japanese, the South Koreans, that there is an outcome there that benefits each of them, I think we increase the likelihood that we get that outcome."