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Trump says he 'does not necessarily agree' with intelligence agencies

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Washington, Feb 4:   US President Donald Trump has said he does not always agree with the conclusions of his intelligence chiefs and pointed out past intelligence failures as a reason to reject their assessments of the threats posed by Iran and North Korea.

Trump rebuked his intelligence chiefs last week after his director of national intelligence and leaders of the CIA and FBI testified before Congress on global threats and contradicted the president on Iran, North Korea and ISIS.

During a Congressional hearing last week, top American spymasters Dan Coats, National Intelligence Director, and Gina Haspel, CIA Director, told lawmakers that Iran was abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump said he disagrees with the assessment of his intelligence leaders that Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal. He claimed that Iran is going ahead with its nuclear weapons programme.

He also said the national security advisers' false assessment on Iraq led the US to engage in a war that it should never have been.

The US' intelligence services had said that the then Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that became the basis of American invasion in the Middle East nation. However, the assessment was later proven wrong, he said.

"I have intel people, but that does not mean I have to agree (with their assessments)...people that said Saddam Hussein...in Iraq had nuclear weapons...Those intel people didn't know what the hell they were doing, and they got us tied up in a war that we should have never been in," Trump told CBS News in an interview.

As a result of that intelligence assessment under the Bush administration, Trump said the US spent USD 7 trillion in the Middle East and lost hundreds of lives.

Trump said he disagrees with the assessment of his intelligence leaders that Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal. He claimed that Iran is going ahead with its nuclear weapons programme.

"When I look at Iran, I look at it as a nation that has caused tremendous problems," he said.

In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear programme with the P5+1 group of world powers - the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

It came after years of tension over Iran's alleged efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insisted that its nuclear programme was entirely peaceful, but the international community did not believe that.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

Trump in May last year withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal, calling it "defective at its core".

Trump also indicated that he is not in sync with the assessment of his intelligence chief on the nuclear weapons programme of North Korea.

North Korea is unlikely to fully give up its nuclear weapons, the US intelligence report said.

Asserting that there has been a tremendous progress in the ties between the US and the North Korea, Trump said both he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are looking forward to the scheduled meeting between them, the exact date and venue of which will be announced in the next few days.

"He (Kim) is looking forward to it. I am looking forward to it. We have made tremendous progress...(Kim) has a chance to have North Korea becoming an economic behemoth. (North Korea) has a chance to be one of the great economic countries in the world. (Kim) He can't do that with nuclear weapons," he said.

Trump and Kim met in Singapore last June to discuss denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

At the time, Trump claimed this meeting had ended the North Korean nuclear threat.

The two leaders signed an agreement pledging to "work toward complete denuclearisation" but there was no agreed pathway and little progress has been made since then on the issue.

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