The White House said on Friday that Washington did not believe the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had the capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile.
“First of all, I want to be clear that North Korea has not demonstrated the capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a briefing.
But he noted that the United States continued to closely monitor the DPRK’s nuclear program. Carney once again called upon Pyongyang to honor its international obligations.
“We have responded to the series of provocative actions, as well as the stepped-up bellicose rhetoric emanating from Pyongyang, by taking a series of prudent measures to ensure that our homeland and our allies are defended,” he said, citing the step of enhancing the missile defense system.
On Thursday, U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn said at a hearing that intelligence indicated the DPRK might have acquired the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead with its ballistic missile.
“DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles,” Lamborn read from, according to him, an unclassified intelligence assessment by the Pentagon. “However, the reliability will be low. ”
Tensions have been heightened on the Korean Peninsula since the DPRK conducted its third nuclear test on Feb. 12 in protest against joint military drills between the Republic of Korea and the United States.
The DPRK has declared “a state of war” with the South and threatened to launch a preemptive nuclear strike for self-defense. The country on Tuesday urged all foreign organizations, companies and tourists in the South to evacuate in case of war, saying the DPRK “does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war” as the situation on the peninsula “is inching close to a thermonuclear war.”
Obama on Thursday urged the DPRK to end its “belligerent approach,” saying “nobody wants to see a conflict on the Korean Peninsula.”
In Seoul on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that the DPRK will not be accepted as a nuclear power. The chief U.S. diplomat also said a missile launch by Pyongyang would be “a huge mistake.”