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North Korea nuclear missiles: How startling is Pentagon assessment? (+video)

A new Pentagon intelligence report claims that North Korea has the ability to make a nuclear device small enough to fit on a ballistic missile – not that it's been fully tested or is set to fire.

People visit a flower show featuring thousands of Kimilsungia flowers, named after the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, while models of a rocket and missiles are also displayed in Pyongyang, on Friday.

Alexander F. Yuan/AP

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A new US intelligence report says North Korea may have the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on top of a ballistic missile. This startling bit of information was made public at a congressional hearing on Thursday when Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) of Colorado read it out of a previously classified Defense Intelligence Agency report.

The DIA has “moderate confidence” that Pyongyang has made its nuclear devices small enough to fit missiles, noted Representative Lamborn. The lawmaker added that the Pentagon’s intelligence arm also believes that “reliability will be low” when it comes to these possible warheads.

Yikes! Is this as startling as it sounds? Given the harsh rhetoric that’s been coming out of North Korea in recent weeks, the idea of Pyongyang’s young leader (and friend of Dennis Rodman) Kim Jong-un with his finger on the button is not reassuring.

First, it’s important to note that this DIA assessment does not necessarily reflect the thinking of the entire US intelligence apparatus. Plus, if read carefully, it holds only that North Korea may have rudimentary knowledge – not an arsenal of long-range missiles with nuclear weapons on their tips.

This can be seen in the fact that the Defense Department itself tried to roll back the DIA’s conclusion a bit after it was disclosed.


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