The Pentagon said in a report to the US Congress issued on Thursday that North Korea’s Taepodong-2 missile, with continued development, might finally become capable of reaching parts of the United States if it is configured as an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The report described North Korea’s successful rocket launch in December 2012 as a progress that “contributes heavily” to Pyongyang’s development of long-range ballistic missiles.
Tensions between Washington and Pyongyang have risen after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February.
North Korea is going on with refining its atomic arms capability and is able to carry out “additional nuclear tests at any time,” the Pentagon stated.
“These advances in ballistic-missile delivery systems, coupled with developments in nuclear technology… are in line with North Korea’s stated objective of being able to strike the US homeland,” the report said.
In early April, North Korea said it was prepared to use “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear weapons if it was attacked by the US or South Korea.
Pyongyang on its April 4 military statement threatened to react against a US aggression with “powerful practical military counteractions.”
“We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating US hostile policy toward [North Korea] and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means,” the North Korean statement said.
The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military rhetoric following the participation of nuclear-capable US B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers in the joint military exercises with South Korea that ended on April 30.