By Simon Tomlinson, Sam Webb, Tim Shipman and Beth Stebner A Pentagon agency has concluded for the first time that the secretive country could have a likely ability to launch a nuclear-armed missile at its enemies.The details were leased in Pentagon Defence Intelligence Agency documents from last month that were mistakenly marked as unclassified. The [...]

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North Korea able to launch nuclear attack – Pentagon

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By Simon Tomlinson, Sam Webb, Tim Shipman and Beth Stebner

A Pentagon agency has concluded for the first time that the secretive country could have a likely ability to launch a nuclear-armed missile at its enemies.The details were leased in Pentagon Defence Intelligence Agency documents from last month that were mistakenly marked as unclassified. The papers detailed that they have ‘moderate confidence’ that Pyongyang is able to launch ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in London for the G8 Summit, touched down at the Seoul military airport in Seongnam Friday as part of a spearheaded effort to shift power toward Asia and away from Europe and the Middle East.Mr Kerry’s trip was long-planned ahead of the crisis in North Korea, and the Secretary of State is scheduled to tour two other nations during his visit. But he will likely seek to cool tensions following weeks of heightened rhetoric from Kim Jong Un.

Frontline females:: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un with female members of the Korean People's Army Unit 4302 in an undated picture. Many of the artillery units along the coasts are manned by women

The secret assessment was brought to the public eye on Thursday at the House of Representatives’ Armed Services committee by a congressman as he questioned senior Pentagon officials over the true threat North Korea has.The documents, which were confirmed to CNN, are an alarming development in the escalating situation in North Korea.

The former classified document is titled: ‘Dynamic Threat Assessment 8099: North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program (March 2013).’By Thursday evening, Pentagon press secretary George Little issued a statement that appeared to qualify the information the Colorado representative had earlier brought to light.

‘It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed, or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in this passage,’ the statement reads. ‘The United States continues to closely monitor the North Korean nuclear program and calls upon North Korea to honour its international obligations.’

As the New York Times notes, the former classified dossier could provide insight into why Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel and others in the Defence Department have said in recent weeks that they are bolstering up defences on America’s West Coast and in Guam.
The consensus inside the U.S. government is that North Korea does not yet have a nuclear device that would fit longer-range missiles which conceivably could reach U.S. territories.

All the same, the release of part of the DIA report will likely raise tension on the Korean peninsula where North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast, according to assessments by Washington and Seoul, possibly in readiness for a test-launch that would demonstrate its ability to hit U.S. bases on Guam.

Most observers say Pyongyang has no intention of starting a war that would likely bring its own destruction, but they warn of the risks of miscalculation.

At a summit in London led by Foreign Secretary William Hague, the G8 group of nations agreed new sanctions would follow if North Korea continued to threaten its neighbours.This is the first time the world’s most powerful and richest nations – including Russia – have united to warn of consequences for the young Communist leader of the world’s most isolated country.

North Korea’s missile, dubbed the Musudan after the name of the village where North Korea has a launch pad, could reach the U.S. territory of Guam and US military installations in Japan.Foreign minister Yun Byung-se said South Korea had asked China and Russia to intercede with the North to ease tension that has mounted since the UN Security Council slapped fresh sanctions on Pyongyang after a nuclear arms test in February.

A test-fire of the Musudan missile would violate UN resolutions banning North Korea from nuclear and missile activity, and escalate tensions with the US, South Korea and Japan.As the peninsula edges ever closer to war, there were reports that the military is split over the young dictator’s aggression, which may stem from a desire to rein in his discontented but powerful generals.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the battles occurred at the end of 2011, shortly before Kim Jong-un succeeded his father as the ‘supreme commander’ of the 1.2million-strong Korean People’s Army.He said there may have been a violent disagreement between two major departments over army reconnaissance last year, possibly alarming the 30-year-old and spurring him on to tighten his grip on power.

This view is echoed by North Korean defector Kim Hyun-hee, who told an Australian broadcaster: ‘Kim Jong-un is too young and too inexperienced. He’s struggling to gain complete control over the military and to win their loyalty.’The Obama administration believes North Korea will likely test one of its mobile ballistic missiles imminently after the most recent intelligence showed Pyongyang had probably completed its launch preparations.

But a U.S. official said there was no guarantee North Korea would give any warning of its launch to civilians.‘We hope they issue a notification, but at this point we don’t expect it. We are working on the assumption they won’t,’ the unnamed official told CNN.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who has sought to re-engage North Korea with dialogue and humanitarian aid since taking office in February, expressed exasperation yesterday with what she called the ‘endless vicious cycle’ of Seoul answering Pyongyang’s hostile behaviour with compromise, only to get more hostility.

Daily Mail, London




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