Teheran, 5 Jumadil Akhir 1434/14 April 2013 (MINA) – US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting Seoul to give fulsome US backing to military ally South Korea, said that he doubted that North Korea has the ability to launch a nuclear-armed ballistic missile, Friday (12/4), according to Press TV report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
“But obviously they have conducted a nuclear test, so there’s some kind of device, but that is very different from miniaturization and delivery and from tested delivery and other things,” Kerry said at a Friday news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
South Korea also downplayed its northern neighbor’s nuclear capability, saying it doubts the North has the ability to launch a nuclear-armed ballistic missile.
“North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, but it is still doubtful that North Korea has made a small, light warhead that can be mounted on a missile,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said on Friday.
The DIA report, dated last month and revealed Thursday by a US lawmaker, said that North Korea has the ability to launch nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, although they would likely be unreliable.
Press TV report also, US and South Korean military officials have downplayed an assessment by the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that Pyongyang may have developed the ability to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at its foes.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Friday that “it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed, or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced” by the lawmaker.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the North Korean government “has not demonstrated the capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile.”
Meanwhile, North Korea has threatened to target Japan if Tokyo tries to intercept a possible missile test.
The warning came in response to Japan’s announcement that the Patriot missile interceptor batteries, originally set to be stationed on March 2015, will be deployed permanently later this month on the island of Okinawa.
Japan had earlier announced the deployment of several Patriot Advance Capability-3 missile systems in strategic places, including key military units in Tokyo, to intercept any North Korean missiles fired on the Japanese territory.
Kerry warned North Korea against a possible nuclear missile launch, saying it would be a “huge mistake.”
“If Kim Jong-un decides to launch a missile, whether it’s across the Sea of Japan or in some other direction, he will be choosing willfully to ignore the entire international community,” Kerry 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 recent joint military drills with South Korea.
On Thursday, North Korea said, “Our arms are ready to fire and the exact coordinates are put into the warheads. Once we push the button, it will be fired and the strongholds of our enemies will be turned into a sea of flames.”
On April 9, Pyongyang urged all foreign institutions, enterprises, and tourists in South Korea to leave the country, warning that the Korean Peninsula was nearing “thermonuclear war”.
North Korea declared on March 30 that it was in a “state of war” with South Korea. Pyongyang warned that if Washington and Seoul launched a preemptive attack, the conflict would “not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.”(T/P09/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).