&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2003/01/29/42696.html ' target=_blank>North Korea theoretically can mount a nuclear weapon on a long-range missile, a Pentagon spokesman said late Friday, providing more details than congressional testimony delivered a day earlier by a top intelligence official.
Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said the military has no evidence that the communist nation has actually put such a warhead atop a missile that could travel many thousands of miles.
If it can, it would mark a significant advance in Pyongyang's ability to threaten the United States at a time when the two countries are at a standoff over U.S. efforts to curtail North Korea's nuclear program.
On Thursday, Defense Intelligence Agency chief Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby told a Senate committee that North Korea can arm a missile with a nuclear device. He had left unclear, however, whether he was referring to a short- or long-range missile, nor did he specify whether he believed North Korea had already done so, publishes the Guardian Unlimited.
According to ABC News, North Korea is believed to have made at least one &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/08/29/13748.html ' target=_blank>nuclear weapon, according to public intelligence estimates. But combining that weapon with the Taepo Dong 2 into a nuclear missile is a greater technical challenge, defense officials said. After Jacoby spoke, two defense officials said U.S. intelligence analysts believe North Korea is several years from being able to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile that is capable of reaching the United States from Korea.
The defense officials, discussing intelligence assessments on the condition of anonymity, said analysts believe North Korea has not solved all the problems of turning a nuclear device into a small warhead for an intercontinental ballistic missile, so the meaning of Jacoby's statement remained somewhat ambiguous.