Top story: As Secretary of State Kerry visits South Korea, the latest assessment out of the Pentagon only adds to the confusion about what we do and don’t know about North Korea’s ability to successfully launch a nuclear-armed missile.
- The Pentagon has concluded — with “moderate confidence” — that the Hermit Kingdom knows how to make a nuclear weapon small enough to be mounted on a ballistic missile. (The New York Times)
- “Moderate confidence,” however, was confusing enough. Then the Pentagon, which wasn’t expecting a congressman to blurt out that analysis during a House committee hearing, tried to tamp down on the furor that arose — without actually denying the analysis. (The Atlantic Wire) and (Intelligencer)
- “US intel chief Clapper says in statement that DIA report on NKorea nukes does not reflect intel community consensus.” (Ernesto Londoño)
- Wait, it was blurted out during a House hearing? Yes, by a GOP congressman about three hours into a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday. (Intelligencer)
- The problem: There’s still some confusion whether that comment the congressman read, apparently marked “unclassified,” was supposed to be classified. (Security Clearance)
- Regardless, the war hoarse crowd demands action. Sen. John McCain says if North Korea tests a missile, “I would take it out” (meaning the test facility). “This guy [Kim] is a clown.” (Fox News)
- Also of note: If the worst-case scenario is true “North Korea’s weapon design work would also change the estimate for when Iran could develop a nuclear weapon.” (The Daily Beast)
- One uncommon indicator that North Korea won’t attack? The location of Samsung’s chairman. Fortunately for us, he’s back in Seoul after a three-month trip. (Quartz)
- Also, as NBC’s Jim Maceda has reported, South Koreans for the most part have been remarkably calm. Why? In the words of one, “Repetitive Learning. The north has done this over and over.” (NBC News)
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Top Links: So what exactly DO we know about North Korea’s missiles? And what does ‘moderate confidence’ mean?