WASHINGTON (CN) – North Korea is producing nuclear warheads small enough to fit inside their long-range ballistic missiles – which the country claims are capable of reaching the United States, according to media reports on Tuesday.
The Washington Post’s report cites a confidential national security assessment completed last month that also increased the Defense Intelligence Agency’s estimate for how many nuclear weapons North Korea currently possesses.
The report comes a day after North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said his reclusive country would be willing to use its missiles against any nation that might threaten the use of military force against it.
North Korea previously claimed to have successfully tested a miniaturized nuclear weapon, but the analysis The Washington Post reported Tuesday is the first official confirmation that North Korea might have that capability.
“The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment states, according to The Washington Post.
The assessment represents a shift in the analysis of North Korea’s capabilities, as it was previously believed that while the country had nuclear weapons it did not have the ability to make them small enough to launch any significant distance.
The report also comes at a time of heightened focus on North Korea, with the Trump administration making it a key focus of its foreign policy agenda. The United Nations Security Council on Saturday approved a resolution imposing new economic sanctions against North Korea, which President Donald Trump praised.
The Trump administration has maintained that the United States will only negotiate with North Korea if it gives up its nuclear arsenal. In the speech on Monday, Ri promised his country would never “put the nukes and ballistic rockets on [the] negotiating table,” according to The Washington Post.
North Korea most recently tested a ballistic missile on July 28, though the missile crashed into the Sea of Japan after a more than 600-mile flight.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on The Washington Post’s report.