North Korea has not demonstrated its capabilities to deploy nuclear missiles, the White House said on Friday after a US lawmaker created sensation by reading out an intelligence report that Pyongyang has atomic weapons capable of delivering by ballistic missiles.
"I want to be clear that North Korea has not demonstrated the capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"The United States continues to closely monitor the North Korean nuclear programme and calls upon North Korea to honour its international obligations. So I just want to be clear, it is our assessment that North Korea has not demonstrated the capability to deploy a nuclear-armed missile," he said.
The United States, he said, has responded to the series of provocative actions, as well as the stepped-up bellicose rhetoric emanating from Pyongyang, by taking a series of prudent measures to ensure that the US and its allies are defended.
"That includes steps to enhance our missile defence system, as well as a variety of other measures that we've taken and that have been reported on," he said.
Carney was responding to questions after a US lawmaker during a Congressional hearing said that the North Koreans have nuclear weapons capable of delivering by ballistic missile.
"DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency) assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivering by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low," Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, said during a Congressional hearing which was soon confirmed by the intelligence agencies.
However, the Pentagon soon said it is not correct to suggest that North Korea has a fully tested and developed nuclear capabilities.
"In today's House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of Defence budget, a member of the committee read an unclassified passage in a classified report on North Korea's nuclear capabilities," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
"While I cannot speak to all the details of a report that is classified in its entirety, it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed, or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage," he said.
"But there is no question that this is a situation that requires the United States to take necessary prudent measures, and that's what we've done," he said.
"I think a familiarity with some of these past cycles would suggest that the rhetoric is in the keeping with, by and large, past behaviour," Carney said.