US Officials Say North Korea Capable of Hitting US in 2018

Posted July 27, 2017

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that over the past week intelligence has spotted equipment, possibly for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or an intermediate-range missile, moving into a site in the western city of Kusong. Exports to China of coal and other minerals accounted for much of the increase.

While the volume is small, it's becoming a point of tension between President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, who's pressing Russian Federation and other powers to ramp up opposition to the Communist regime's nuclear-missile program.

A top US general said recently that he hopes peace negotiations with North Korea will come to fruition over the next few months but indicated that the United States won't wait around for North Korea to agree to peace for too long.

The Post cited a confidential assessment by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as projecting that North Korea will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable ICBM as early as next year.

The US is also seeing activity related to the outfitting of a Gorae submarine, which North Korea appear to be preparing for a possible simulated submersible missile launch.

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Repeated attempts to bring about a political solution to the conflict, including a series of UN-mediated peace talks, have failed. Earlier, the officials said the family was fleeing from the fighting raging in the province.

Fallon said North Korea continues to receive help in developing its missile and nuclear ambitions as he called on enforcement of the sanctions.

Russian imports from North Korea slumped to just $421,000 in the first quarter of 2017 from the same period a year ago, while exports, mainly of foodstuffs and fuel, more than doubled to $31.4 million, according to customs service data. But analysts say conditions today are different and the likelihood of widespread starvation is very low.

Economic ties between Russia and North Korea, which share a narrow land border, are similarly beleaguered, with trade down for a third year to just $77 million in 2016, according to the Russian customs service. Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said that early Iranian missiles were near exact copies of North Korean ones. Go said the Kim Jong Un government could divert about $300 million from its nuclear program to import food to make up for any drought shortages.

One possible stumbling block is whether the new resolution will refer to North Korea's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. "Whether they are willing to put it in writing or not is going to be the real question", Haley said.

In addition, there are concerns that North Korean officials could monetize food aid by selling it on the black market or exporting it to China.