North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meets Salvador Antonio Valdes Mesa, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) and vice-president of the Council of State of Cuba, and his party on a visit. Photo: KCNA via Reuters

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is a “rational” leader and the US must recognize this fact in order to deal effectively with the nuclear-armed country, AFP quotes Yong Suk Lee, the deputy assistant director of the CIA’s Korea Mission Center, as saying.

“Beyond the bluster, Kim Jong-un is a rational actor,” Lee said at a conference on the CIA at George Washington University in Washington on Wednesday.

“We have a tendency in this country to underestimate his conservatism,” Lee said. “He wants to rule for a long time and die in his own bed.”

President Donald Trump and other US politicians have repeatedly labeled Kim as irrational and “crazy.” But Lee reportedly stressed that Kim’s chief concern is to stay in power, as demonstrated by his alleged murder in Malaysia in February of his half-brother Kim Jong Nam, which has been blamed on Pyongyang agents.

“All politics is local,” Lee said of the North Korean mindset.