North Korea could field nuclear ICBM by next year: report

North Korea could field nuclear ICBM by next year: report
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U.S. officials think that North Korea will be able to fire a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by 2018, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

A confidential assessment by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) moves up by two years when many thought Pyongyang could create and field such a weapon.

An aggressive testing regime in the past several months has validated North Korea’s basic missile designs. The nation now will be able to start industrial production within a few months.

Numerous North Korean missile tests since the start of 2017 prompted the DIA report, according to the Post.

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North Korea on July 4 for the first time successfully tested an ICBM. The range of the missile appears to indicate Alaska is within reach, but outside experts said North Korea is still a ways off from being able to reliably strike the U.S. mainland.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Paul Selva earlier this month told the Senate just as much, that Pyongyang does not yet have the guidance and control technology necessary to accurately hit the United States.

But the DIA’s findings still prompt U.S. and other nations to stop North Korea’s missile and nuclear program before it creates a nuclear-tipped ICBM.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a statement Tuesday that he is “increasingly alarmed that North Korea is acting with a greater sense of urgency than we are.”

Speaking during a classified briefing on the pace of North Korea's ICBM development, Thornberry urged lawmakers to “take forceful, swift steps to see that the U.S. and our allies are protected.” 

The DIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined comment to the Post.