US Doesn’t Know If North Korea Has a Nuclear Missile

U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti speaks to reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon, on October 24, 2014.

DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett

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U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti speaks to reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon, on October 24, 2014.

Even if they do, the odds of North Korea possessing a reliable ICBM is 'pretty darn low,' says the top U.S. general for Korea. By Marcus Weisgerber

The U.S. military still doesn’t know if North Korea has a working nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States.

North Korea might have the intellectual know how to build a miniaturized nuclear weapon, but that does not mean Pyongyang has actually built a intercontinental ballistic missile, the U.S. military general that oversees the 28,500 American forces based in South Korea said.

Even if the North Koreans have built a weapon, American officials have no evidence of one being tested, which Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, said means the missile would be unreliable.

“I don’t know that they have that capability. I’m just saying, as a commander, I’ve got to assume they’ve had the capabilities to put it together,” Scaparrotti said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Friday. “We’ve not seen it tested at this point. Something that’s that complex, without it being tested, the probability of it being effective is pretty darn low.”

North Korea has said it is developing the KN-08, an ICBM that could launch from the back of a large truck. It has showed off missiles carried on the back of a 16-wheel vehicle during military parades.

Scaparrotti said he believes North Korea has “the background” to build this type of weapon. The general noted that North Korea has “proliferation relationships” with Iran and Pakistan.

“Personally, I think that they certainly have had the expertise in the past,” he said. “They’ve had the right connections.”

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