A new assessment by U.S. intelligence officials reportedly says North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside intercontinental ballistic missiles, a development that comes as tensions with the reclusive nation continue to rise.
The confidential analysis says “the IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” according to an excerpt The Washington Post says was read to it. Two officials familiar with the document, which was completed last month, verified the contents to the Post.
The Defense Intelligence Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the report, but the analysis matches a Japanese defense report this week that said it is possible North Korea has achieved the difficult task of miniaturization. North Korea claimed to have tested the smaller design last year, but that has not been confirmed.
The findings would put North Korea’s nuclear program years ahead of projections, according to some analysts.
“What initially looked like a slow-motion Cuban missile crisis is now looking more like the Manhattan Project, just barreling along,” said Robert Litwak, a nonproliferation expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars told the Post. “There’s a sense of urgency behind the program that is new to the Kim Jong Un era.”
North Korea has tested ICBMs in recent weeks, though a video analysis of a launch last month showed the missile caught fire on reentry. The test drew a new set of economic sanctions from the United Nations over the weekend.
The hostile nation’s state-run news agency responded that “(North Korea) will make the U.S. pay dearly for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country.”
Speaking at the ASEAN Regional Forum on Monday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho blamed the U.S. for the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and said Pyongyang’s “possession of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles is a legitimate option for self-defense in the face of a clear and real nuclear threat posed by the US,” according to a statement released by North Korea.
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said over the weekend that “all options” are on the table to deal with North Korea.
Trump tweeted early Tuesday “After many years of failure, countries are coming…