Questions arise over North Korea's nuclear capability
Friday, April 12, 2013 - 01:59
April 12 - Question of North Korea's nuclear warhead capacity up for debate. Julie Noce reports.
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Off in the distance, just across the China-North Korea border, what appear to be North Korean soldiers parachute from a helicopter.
Despite ramped up tensions on the Korean peninsula, residents living in China don't seem overly bothered by the prospect of war. North Korea is decades behind China, this man says, how cold they start a war?
But that's just the question being asked by lawmakers and world leaders in recent weeks... specifically, does North Korea have a nuclear warhead small enough to fit onto one of their ballistic missiles?
During a congressional hearing Thursday, a Republican congressman quoted a document from the Pentagon's spy agency that seemed to say yes, they do.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) COLORADO REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE, DOUG LAMBORN, SAYING:
"DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) assesses with moderate confidence that North (Korea) currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low."
That information had been classified, and as such, was immediately downplayed by Pentagon officials testifying at the hearing.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY, SAYING:
"Well, I haven't seen it and you said it's not publicly released, so I choose not to comment on it."
South Korean officials also moved quickly to extinguish any backlash from that report. The country's defense ministry told reporters Friday morning, they do not think North Korea has been able to miniatuised nuclear weapons.
What everyone does agree on, is the possibly that North Korea might make a move -- a threat strong enough to get world leaders to the region to discuss a plan.
U.S Secretary of State John Kerry, arrived in Seoul Friday afternoon, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been there since Thursday.
For now, North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast. And with all eyes on North Korea, they're keen to let the world know, they're watching back.
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