U.S. officials reported Tuesday that the North Korean military has been seen transporting what it believes to be equipment necessary for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile in the western city of Kusong, Reuters reported.
One anonymous official said, according to Reuters, that the ICBM test could occur within days but noted that the communist country still lacks the capability to hit the United States with any kind of accuracy. Regardless, experts say that North Korea's Hwasgon-14 missile is capable of reaching Alaska and Hawaii.
Another unnamed official told Reuters that while North Korea may have a missile capable of reaching U.S. land, it still does not have the necessary technology to fit a nuclear warhead small enough on an ICBM or the technology to allow the missile to survive re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
A third unnamed official said that. should North Korea launch anything from its "tinker-toy mix of old Russian missiles," it would only be because North Korean President Kim Jong Un and his regime were suicidal.
The last missile test from North Korea occurred on July 4, when Kim personally oversaw the launch of a Hwasong-14 missile. Kim called it a "gift" for the "American bastards."
The U.S. responded by conducting a joint test of a precision missile capable of striking Kim wherever he was, according to military officials. This happened simultaneously with the U.S. releasing spy photos of Kim walking around the Hwasong-14 launch site, further imparting the message that the U.S. knew of his location and that any attack from Kim would result in an immediate strike on his person.
On Tuesday, the North Korean government released a statement through its state-run news agency and said that, should the Kim regime be threatened, the communist country would conduct a nuclear strike on U.S. soil.
Reuters reported that while officials believe North Korea does not have the capability to carry out a nuclear strike for a few years, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency holds the opposite view. The DIA told the Washington Post that it believes the North Korean military could field a ballistic nuclear missile as early as next year. This puts North Korea's nuclear capabilities a whole two years ahead of initial projections.