N.Korea can launch nuclear missiles, U.S. spy agency says

WASHINGTON/SEOUL Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:49am IST

1 of 4. North Korean soldiers form a giant North Korean flag during a military parade in Pyongyang's central square in this still image taken from video September 9, 2011 marking the 63rd anniversary of the state's founding.

Credit: Reuters/KRT via Reuters TV/Files

Related Topics

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has the ability to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, although they would likely be unreliable, a Pentagon spy agency has concluded, as the United States and South Korea kept watch on Thursday for a missile test-launch by Pyongyang.

The Defense Intelligence Agency study, dated last month, appeared to be the first time the agency had reached such a conclusion.

"DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low," said Republican U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn, who disclosed the conclusion during a congressional hearing on Thursday.

Lamborn said the agency reached the conclusion in a mostly classified March 2013 report. He did not say what range the nuclear-capable North Korean missiles might have.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to comment when asked if he agreed with that assessment, saying he had not seen the report.

The strong consensus inside the U.S. government is that North Korea does not yet have a nuclear device that would fit longer-range missiles which conceivably could reach U.S. territories.

Despite recent threats to attack U.S. bases and the South, North Korea started to welcome a stream of visitors for Monday's celebrations marking the birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States would work diplomatically to reduce tensions with North Korea, while warning that Washington would take "all necessary steps" to protect America and its allies.

Obama met at the White House on Thursday with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called for China and other nations with influence over North Korea to help calm the situation.

North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast, according to defence assessments by Washington and Seoul, possibly in readiness for a test-launch that would demonstrate its ability to hit U.S. bases on Guam.

"There are signs the North could fire off Musudan missiles any time soon," an unnamed intelligence source in Seoul told Yonhap news agency.

Most observers say Pyongyang has no intention of starting a war that would likely bring its own destruction, but they warn of the risks of miscalculation on the highly militarised Korean peninsula.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim and Daum Kim in SEOUL, Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING, John Ruwitch in SHANGHAI, and Patricia Zengerle, Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason in Washington; Writing by Peter Cooney, Editing by Jim Loney)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Health Reforms

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Record Highs

Record Highs

Nifty touches record high; software stocks gain.  Full Article 

New Adviser

New Adviser

Arvind Subramanian likely to be chief econ adviser.  Full Article 

Pricing Mechanism

Pricing Mechanism

Govt sets up a four-member panel to re-examine gas pricing.  Full Article 

Royalty Rates

Royalty Rates

India to hike iron ore royalty, miners may struggle to pass on extra cost.  Full Article 

Diesel Deregulation

Diesel Deregulation

Oil ministry to seek Cabinet nod on diesel deregulation - sources  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Gold near two-month low; set for weekly drop on interest rate fears  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

Apple iPhone 6 screen snag leaves supply chain scrambling   Full Article 

Helping Regional Mills

Helping Regional Mills

Govt raises sugar import duty to 25 pct from 15 pct.  Full Article 

Curbing Risks

Curbing Risks

RBI to lower ceiling on bank loans to a single corporate group.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage