North Korea continues to work toward developing a long-range nuclear missile that can reach the United States, according to an unclassified report to Congress released by the Pentagon Thursday.
The report said that North Korea’s advances in ballistic missiles and nuclear technology are in line with Pyongyang’s stated objective of striking the U.S. homeland.
The assessment did not shed much light on the timeline of when North Korea might develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), only saying that the pace would depend on the level of resources and frequency of testing.
The Pentagon’s unclassified report on North Korea’s military capabilities was the first delivered to Congress after lawmakers included the requirement in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.
But the North still hasn’t developed the technology to weaponize the long-range missile, according to the Pentagon’s assessment.
“North Korea continues to develop the TD-2, which could reach parts of the United States if configured as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying a nuclear payload,” the report said.
The report noted that Pyongyang has not tested a re-entry vehicle — “without which North Korea cannot deliver a weapon to target from an ICBM.”
The new Pentagon report comes a month after Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) disclosed the unclassified portion of a classified a Defense Intelligence Agency report, which read: “DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low.”
Pentagon officials later walked back the assessment, saying the text was mistakenly unclassified.
North Korea has threatened a nuclear strike against the United States and South Korea in recent months, escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula while the U.S. and Seoul conducted joint military exercises.