WASHINGTON — North Korea has taken a major step forward in realizing its goal of becoming a nuclear power, according to a Washington Post report on a confidential U.S. intelligence assessment that concludes Pyongyang has developed a nuclear warhead capable of fitting inside its missiles.
The Post first reported details of the assessment on Tuesday just hours after North Korea threatened “physical action” in response to punitive sanctions unanimously passed by the United Nations Security Council over the weekend.
“The [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment states, in an excerpt read to the Post.
The Post story said it is not known if North Korea has successfully tested the smaller design. The analysis is from the Defense Intelligence Agency and it is not clear the assessment is shared across the intelligence community.
U.S. intelligence estimates Pyongyang might have the capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon to the U.S. mainland by early next year and its missile program showed significant progress during two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Donald Trump was quick to highlight his administration’s success in leading the U.N. Security Council to unanimously pass sanctions on North Korea.
“After many years of failure,countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!” Trump wrote in a tweet on Tuesday morning.