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US Intel Report: N Korea Could Return to ICBM, Nuke Tests This Year

US Intel Report: N Korea Could Return to ICBM, Nuke Tests This Year
folder_openUnited States access_time2 years ago
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By Staff, Agencies

A top US intelligence organization has accused North Korea of preparing the ground for a return to intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBMs] and nuclear bomb tests this year for the first time since 2017.

In its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment, released on Monday ahead of a congressional hearing, the US Directorate of National Intelligence [DNI] claims that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remains committed to expanding his nuclear weapons arsenal and ballistic missile research and development.

It further notes that North Korea's continued development of ICBMs, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles show the country's intention to bolster its nuclear delivery capability.

“In January, North Korea began laying the groundwork for an increase in tensions that could include ICBM or possibly a nuclear test this year – actions that Pyongyang has not taken since 2017,” the report notes.

“Flight tests are part of North Korea’s effort to expand the number and type of missile systems capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the entire United States,” it adds.

The DNI serves as the head of the US Intelligence Community, with the office tasked to integrate the intelligence gathering and analysis functions performed across the intelligence community.

On Tuesday, US-based analysts reportedly said that commercial satellite imagery shows construction at North Korea's nuclear testing site for the first time since it was closed in 2018.

International experts have also reported that North Korea’s main nuclear reactor facility at Yongbyon appears to be in full swing, which might allegedly be for the sake of providing fuel for nuclear weapons.

The DNI report has based its assessment on information available as of January 21.

The development comes on the heels of “another important” test for reconnaissance satellite systems by North Korea last week, only a day after firing at least one suspected ballistic missile.

It was the ninth such missile launch by Pyongyang this year.

North Korea also tested a record number of missiles in January as part of a program to modernize its arsenal.

Pyongyang insists that such tests are meant to strengthen its defense power, in the face of Washington's hostile policies, sanctions, and joint military drills on the Korean Peninsula.