President Obama said in an interview that aired Tuesday he did not believe North Korea was able to marry its nuclear weapons and missile technology.
The Defense Intelligence Agency said in a report last month that it had "moderate confidence" that North Korea could deploy a nuclear missile. The intelligence was disclosed in a congressional hearing last week for the first time, but Pentagon officials quickly cautioned that they did not yet have firm evidence Pyongyang had actually done so or could accurately aim such a missile.
In the interview, which was taped before Monday's terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon, the president indicated that ultimately he believed diplomacy would prevail, despite rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
"North Korea will probably make more provocative moves over the next several weeks, but our hope is we can contain it and we can move into a different phase, in which they try to work through diplomatically some of these issues so they can get back on a path where they’re actually feeding their people," Obama said.
He also dismissed concerns that Kim Jong Un, North Korea's freshly minted leader, was less predictable than his predecessors.
“This is the same kind of pattern that we saw his father engage in, and his grandfather before that," Obama said. "Since I came into office, the one thing I was clear about was we’re not going to reward this kind of provocative behavior. You don’t get to bang your spoon on the table and somehow you get your way.”
At the same time, Obama conceded "I'm not a psychiatrist."
"I don't know the leader of North Korea," he added.