Don't think N Korea has nuke missiles
President Barack Obama has said he doesn't believe North Korea can fit a nuclear warhead on a missile, casting strong doubt on an alarming assessment disclosed last week by the Pentagon's intelligence arm.
And he warned the young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that weeks of threats against the United States and South Korea had only served to isolate the regime further.
Asked in an NBC News interview whether North Korea could put a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile, Obama said, "Based on our current intelligence assessments, we do not think that they have that capacity."
According to a snippet of a document read out by a congressman at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency believes "with moderate confidence" that the North has developed nuclear weapons it could deliver on a ballistic missile, although with low reliability.
U.S. defense and intelligence officials sought to qualify the DIA's words soon after they were made public, saying North Korea hadn't "fully" demonstrated the capabilities mentioned. But Obama's comments in the NBC interview, which was recorded Monday and broadcast Tuesday, appear to be the strongest dismissal of the assessment yet.
Pyongyang intensified its threatening language last month when the UN Security voted to approve tougher sanctions on the North Korean regime following its latest underground nuclear test. Joint military exercises under way in South Korea by US and South Korean troops, which take place each year, have also fed the North's angry rhetoric.
As well as its torrent of fiery words, which have included the threat of a nuclear attack on the United States and South Korea, the North has made a number of moves that have added to tensions on the Korean Peninsula.