North Korea's Missile Program Is Progressing Faster Than We Thought

U.S. intelligence agencies say North Korea could build a reliable nuclear-capable missile in the next year.
Posted at 7:21 PM, Jul 28, 2017

North Korea could have a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as 2018, according to a report from The Washington Post.

The news outlet says it got the information in a confidential assessment from the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency.

In a follow-up story, The New York Times says a North Korean missile might even be able to hit the continental U.S., but that would be a huge leap from earlier estimates.

Still, North Korea has accelerated its ballistic missile program this year. In early July, the country carried out its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Some analysts think that missile had the range to hit Alaska.

Since the beginning of 2017, the North has conducted nearly a dozen other missile tests that we know of.

The U.S., Japan, China and South Korea have been trying to figure out how to deal with North Korea's actions. The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to sanction North Korea, along with Russia and Iran.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said last week that he's "hopeful" the U.S. can take the reins away from Kim Jong-un and his nuclear program.

In response, North Korea threatened a nuclear strike on the U.S. or any other country that tries to remove Kim.

Although officials say North Korea could build a reliable ICBM sooner than thought, The Washington Post says little evidence suggests the country can build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit its current missiles.

Correction: A previous version of this story said North Korea could build a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental U.S. by 2018. Officials believe the country can build a nuclear-capable missile, not a nuclear warhead, and a North Korean missile striking the continental U.S. is still highly debated.