North Korea does not have the technology to load a missile with a nuclear warhead, a senior Japanese official said on Thursday amid fears Pyongyang may carry out a test-launch.
"It requires a certain level of technology to minimize the size of a nuclear warhead so as to build a missile that can be loaded with it. But we don't have information that North Korea has such technology," Senior Vice Foreign Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said in Parliament.
Japanese defence chief Fukushiro Nukaga, however, declined to answer the same question, saying that his agency did not have detailed information on North Korea's technological development.
North Korea in 1998 fired a long-range Taepodong-1 missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean and last year said it had nuclear weapons.
A series of reports have said North Korea was prepared to launch a Taepodong-2, believed to have a range of up to 6,700 kms, enough to hit Alaska and possibly Hawaii.
US President George W Bush warned North Korea on Wednesday to honour pledges not to test a missile, but his administration ruled out direct talks as requested by Pyongyang.
North Korea has boycotted six-nation nuclear disarmament talks, which include the United States and Japan, since November.
Pyongyang wants the United States to lift economic sanctions imposed over the communist regime's alleged counterfeiting and money-laundering.