The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo has said that if the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suddenly died or vanished, then the CIA would keep quiet, reports state.
Pompeo reportedly told security officials at a Washington conference that the intelligence agency would not issue any public statement if something were to happen to the North Korean dictator.
"With respect, if Kim Jong-un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I'm just not going to talk about it," the CIA chief told the Foundation for Defence of Democracies forum, according to The Independent's reports.
"Someone might think there was a coincidence. 'You know, there was an accident.' It's just not fruitful," Pompeo added. His statements were originally reported in the South China Morning Post.
The CIA head was apparently referring to the US agency's history of involvement in plots to overthrow leaders in countries including Iran, Congo and Chile.
Tensions between the US and North Korea have escalated as the leaders of the two countries have been locked in a bitter war of words over Pyongyang's ambitious nuclear programme.
The situation worsened when Trump, during his first address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), vowed to annihilate North Korea if it posed any threat to the US and its allies.
The statement from the CIA chief comes months after North Korea had claimed that the US spy agency had attempted to assassinate Kim with the assistance of the South Korean intelligence agencies. Pyongyang however did not provide any evidence to support its claims.
The CIA chief also warned that North Korea is just months away from perfecting its nuclear capabilities and said that the Trump administration was ready to use military force against the nation if necessary.
"They are close enough now in their capabilities that from a US policy perspective we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving their objective of being able to strike the US," he said.
North Korea recently launched two ballistic missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth and the most powerful nuclear test last month. The nation aims to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.