According to NBC News, the intelligence released by The Washington Post on Tuesday stating that the Defense Intelligence Agency of the Pentagon believes North Korea has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon to place on top of a ballistic missile has been confirmed by the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
NBC News reports:
What has yet to be learned is what confidence level various agencies ascribe to the analysis — low, medium or high. U.S. officials have also been pushing back on the idea that they were surprised by the development, saying that it had been expected for some time. But outside experts, including Juan Zarate, a former top Treasury official and NBC News contributor, have said that it appears intelligence officials did not anticipate the speed of North Korea's advances.
The Post quoted the Defense Intelligence Agency stating, “The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles.”
That assessment was corroborated by the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster offered his response to the growing threat: “We have to provide all options . . . and that includes a military option.”
In July, North Korea launched its first successful tests of a missile that with intercontinental range, as the Post reported. Although video analysis showed North Korea was not yet capable of building a reentry vehicle that can carry the warhead safely through the upper atmosphere, U.S. analysts are worried. Robert Litwak, a nonproliferation expert, said, “What initially looked like a slow-motion Cuban missile crisis is now looking more like the Manhattan Project, just barreling along. There’s a sense of urgency behind the program that is new to the Kim Jong Un era.”
Siegfried Hecker, director emeritus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the last known U.S. official to inspect North Korea’s nuclear facilities, differed, asserting, “Overselling is particularly dangerous. Some like to depict Kim as being crazy — a madman — and that makes the public believe that the guy is undeterrable. He’s not crazy and he’s not suicidal. And he’s not even unpredictable. The real threat is we’re going to stumble into a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.”
Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, opined, “The big question is: Why do we hold the North Koreans to a different standard than we held [Joseph] Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao Zedong’s China? North Korea is testing underground, so we’re always going to lack a lot of details. But it seems to me a lot of people are insisting on impossible levels of proof because they simply don’t want to accept what should be pretty obvious.”
It may seem obvious to Lewis, but if he’s wrong …