American intelligence officers assessing North Korea intentions ahead of a possible nuclear summit believe the regime has no intention of giving up its weapons but might be amenable to opening a burger restaurant in the capital Pyongyang.
This is among the pessimistic conclusions in a CIA report circulated to senior American officials earlier this month, according to NBC News which obtained details of its findings.
It leaked just as diplomats continue preparations for a possible June 12 meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.
Mr Trump has made clear he wants to pursue a meeting despite initially cancelling the plans last week amid widespread scepticism that Kim would give up a nuclear programme he has long insisted was essential for regime survival.
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“Everybody knows they are not going to denuclearise,” an intelligence official, familiar with the report, told NBC.
The American president is famous for his love of fast food and even said he would be willing to sit down with the North Korean leader over burgers to discuss nuclear weapons.
The assessment suggests the hypothetical restaurant would even provide food during talks and act as a demonstration that Kim was open to Western investment.
Grand deal between Donald Trump and North Korea could be the worst possible outcome
But there is little hope that Pyongyang is likely to abandon its controversial programme. Instead, the report suggests a more realistic goal would be to persuade Kim to reverse its recent rapid progress, which has included testing of a possible thermonuclear device and more powerful delivery missiles.
That would fall far short of the version of “denuclearisation” preferred by American officials.
In any case, the options are described with only low and medium confidence, a reminder that North Korea is seen as a “hard target”, and largely impregnable to US spies and analysts.
"This is essentially some very smart analysts offering their very best guesses," one intelligence official told NBC News.