North Korea has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to mount on a ballistic missile, according to a new report.
The assessment from the Defense Intelligence Agency, reported Tuesday by The Washington Post, puts Pyongyang closer than ever before to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power capable of striking the United States with a nuclear weapon, something it has often threatened to do.
The development raises the stakes for President Trump, who has vowed that he will not allow North Korea to obtain a nuclear weapon that can strike the U.S.
Still, officials and experts have said that North Korea has yet to cross key technological hurdles with its nuclear program, including building a re-entry vehicle that can withstand traveling through the atmosphere and developing the guidance and control systems to accurately and reliably target its missiles.
The intelligence analysis reported on by the Post was dated July 28, the same day North Korea carried out its second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.
“The [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment says, according to the Post, which was read the excerpt.
The Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment to the Post.
The assessment tracks with Japan’s annual defense white paper, also released Tuesday, which said that it’s “possible” North Korea has miniaturized a nuclear warhead, as well as warnings from U.S. officials of the grave threat from Pyongyang.
The July 28 analysis also comes after another Defense Intelligence Agency assessment, first reported by the Post, that found North Korea could have a reliable nuclear-capable ICBM as early as next year, two years earlier than previously estimated.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pursued an aggressive testing schedule; he carried out two nuclear tests in 2016 and has conducted more than a dozen missile tests this year.