News Wrap: National Intelligence director doubts North Korea will relinquish nuclear weapons

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James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, U.S., October 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RTX2QEQ0

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JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S. director of national intelligence voiced doubt today that North Korea will ever give up nuclear weapons. In a Washington speed, James Clapper said — quote — “The notion of getting the North Koreans to denuclearize is probably a lost cause. They are not going to do that.”

The State Department quickly disputed his statement and insisted U.S. policy is both unchanged and realistic.

JOHN KIRBY, State Department Spokesman: Our policy is to seek, to obtain a verifiable, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That is the policy. That is both the goal and what we want to see, and there’s a way to do that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Obama has repeatedly said the U.S. will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. But the communist state has stepped up its nuclear and ballistic missiles tests in recent months.

Militants in Pakistan stormed a police academy overnight, killing at least 61 people. It happened in the southwestern city of Quetta. Most of the dead were police cadets and recruits. More than 120 others were wounded in one of the deadliest attacks on Pakistan’s security forces in recent years. Cadets told of being hunted down.

ABDUL SATTAR, Police Cadet (through translator): Last night, we were getting ready to sleep when suddenly we heard sounds of gunfire, and the firing continued, volley after volley, two or three times. Then they entered the building and hurled grenades and kept firing. They looked under the beds, shone torches and fired on people under the beds.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, but so did a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban.

The death rate for migrants crossing the Mediterranean has soared this year to three times last year’s rate. The U.N. Refugee Agency blames smugglers using flimsy inflatable rafts. It says the numbers trying to reach Europe have fallen dramatically. But despite that, the number of deaths is on track to top last year’s total.

WILLIAM SPINDLER, Spokesman, UN High Commissioner for Refugees: At least 3,740 lives are reported lost, and we might see this figure rise in the next few days. And that is just short of the 3,771 deaths reported for the whole of 2015. This is by far the worst we ever have seen in the Mediterranean.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in Northern France, workers today began dismantling a makeshift camp in Calais known as the Jungle. Some 6,300 migrants there are being relocated across France.

Back in this country, the Pentagon ran into new criticism over demands that California National Guard troops return their enlistment bonuses. Audits have found nearly 10,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were overpaid in an effort to fill the ranks. Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted the National Guard suspend efforts to collect the bonuses until Congress can act.

A federal judge in San Francisco has approved a record settlement in Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal. It’s worth nearly $15 billion. Under the terms, the company agrees to buy back 475,000 V.W.s and Audis or pay for repairs. So far, well over 330,000 owners have registered for the deal.

And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 53 points to close at 18169. The Nasdaq fell 26 and the S&P 500 slipped eight.

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