The United States on Thursday insisted North Korea did not have nuclear-armed missiles as officials sought to play down a leaked intelligence report warning Pyongyang had likely succeeded in building atomic warheads that could be fit on a ballistic missile.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said “it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed, or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in” the intelligence report.
The statement came after a lawmaker read out the findings of a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report at a congressional hearing earlier Thursday that appeared to signal a shift in Washington’s view of North Korea’s nuclear program.
The DIA assessment said US analysts had “moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles” but that the reliability of the weapons was “low.”
The intelligence report marked the first time the US government had suggested North Korea may have succeeded in a years-long quest to miniaturize a nuclear device so that it could be placed on a missile.