Pentagon: North Korea Could Make, But Not Aim, A Nuclear Missile

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 11 2013 6:00 PM

Pentagon: North Korea Could Make, But Not Aim, A Nuclear Missile

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People watch a television broadcast reporting the North Korea's nuclear test at the Seoul Railway station on February 12, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea

Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

A report partially released today out of one Pentagon intelligence agency concluded with "moderate confidence" that North Korea could make a nuclear missile. But the report warns that the missile's accuracy would be low.

A portion of the Defense Intelligence Agency report was cited in a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, who said, via CNN

"Quoting from the unclassified portion, which I believe has not yet been made public, they say, quote, 'DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivering by ballistic missiles. However, the reliability will be low.'"
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Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey declined to comment at the hearing on the document. That's because, according to the New York Times, only one paragraph of the report is declassified, and it hadn't been released until Thursday's hearing.

The month-old report's existence, the Times reports, could explain some recent military activity in the Pacific:

"Outside experts said that the report’s conclusions helped explain why the administration announced last month that it was bolstering long-range antimissile defenses in Alaska and California, designed to protect the West Coast, and was rushing another antimissile system, originally not intended for deployment until 2015, to Guam."

North Korea has issued near daily threats against the U.S. and South Korea after a new round of U.N. sanctions were imposed on the country earlier this year. Kim Jong-un's regime is also expected to test a medium-range missile any time now.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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