A confidential assessment by U.S. intelligence officials has concluded that North Korea has already successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, the Washington Post reported. The latest development suggests that North Korea is well on its way to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.
“The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment dated July 28 read. The document's conclusions were subsequently verified by two U.S. officials familiar with the document.
The news analysis conducted by the Defense Intelligence Agency last month surfaced just as experts confirmed that North Korea has created an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking U.S. mainland--outpacing expectations set by U.S. officials.
WATCH: North Korea developed a missile it says could strike the U.S.
Last month, the U.S. calculated that nearly 60 nuclear weapons are controlled by North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, though that number has been disputed by independent experts.
Putting North Korea into context, the county still lags behind major foreign powers in terms of estimated nuclear warheads. For example, according to data compiled by the Washington Post, Russia boasts about 7,000 nuclear warheads, shortly followed by the US' 6,800. From there, the number of nuclear warheads decreases dramatically, with France at 300, China at 260, Britain at 215, Pakistan at 140, India at 130 and Israel at 80.
A separate assessment conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Defense also reported similar conclusions suggesting that Pyongyang has reached miniaturization.
In the wake of two launched ballistic missiles in recent days, the United Nations Security Council has rallied to economically punish North Korea. On Saturday, the UNSC unanimously voted to approve $1 billion in export bans in efforts of dissuading the regime from further developing its nuclear power capabilities.
The DIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the latest assessment.
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