The article has some of my comments on north Korea as an intel target (please go to the link)
ENIGMATIC N.KOREA POSES TOUGH TARGET FOR US SPIES
AFPApril 13, 2013, 9:25 am
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Conflicting accounts from US intelligence about the status of North Korea's nuclear weapons program underscore just how difficult it is for American spy agencies to penetrate the inscrutable regime in Pyongyang, officials and experts said Friday.
The world's most powerful intelligence apparatus is often left to guesswork when it comes to tracking a regime that has cut off its population from the outside world.
"I also have to say that North Korea, of course, is now and always has been one of the, if not the, toughest intelligence targets," National Intelligence Director James Clapper told lawmakers at a hearing Thursday.
The spy chief acknowledged that North Korea's young, untested leader Kim Jong-Un remained a mystery figure whose motives and mindset were largely unknown.
"There's no telling how he's going to behave," Clapper said.
The United States gleans most of its intelligence from satellites tracking North Korean military movements, as Western spies cannot effectively operate in such a tightly-controlled dictatorship.
"It is virtually impossible to run a human spy in the north and penetrate the Korean state," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and fellow at the Brookings Institution, told AFP.
The vexing challenge posed by North Korea was driven home when a Defense Intelligence Agency report came to light Thursday that seemed to paint a more dangerous picture of the country's nuclear weapons, unlike previous accounts from US officials.
The DIA report, revealed by a lawmaker from Colorado with a keen interest in missile defense funding, concluded Pyongyang likely had succeeded in miniaturizing a nuclear warhead that could be fit onto a ballistic missile.
Senior US officials, caught off guard by the report, played down the document as a "low-level" assessment and insisted North Korea did not have nuclear-armed missiles ready to fire and that war on the Korean peninsula remained a remote possibility.
North Korea has "pieces" of a nuclear program "but they haven't shown the ability to deploy nuclear weapons," said a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But officials admitted that what North Korea has or has not developed is uncertain. And the United States and its allies must now wait for Pyongyang's next move, amid intense speculation it will launch medium-range missiles in coming days in a show of military might.
(Continued at the link below)