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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Thursday, August 24, 2017

The U.S. is reported to have concluded that North Korea has successfully built a miniaturized nuclear warhead it could fit inside its missiles in what could be a major weapons breakthrough for the reclusive communist nation.

Two U.S. media outlets, The Washington Post and NBC News, said Tuesday that the Defense Intelligence Agency reached the conclusion in the last month, advancing the timetable for Pyongyang's efforts to become the world's ninth full-fledged nuclear power.

The newspaper quoted the defense agency's assessment that "North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery" by intercontinental ballistic missiles. North Korea has said in recent days that the ICBM it tested in a launch last month was capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, an advance it had not previously claimed.

It is not known whether North Korea has tested the smaller designed nuclear warhead, although it said last year that it had. After one successful long-range missile test in July, state media declared North Korea as a "proud nuclear state" with an ICBM rocket "that can now target anywhere in the world."

The Post said the U.S. has concluded that Pyongyang has now amassed 60 nuclear weapons, although some experts think the number is smaller, perhaps half that.

In early 2016, the U.S. had concluded that Pyongyang was struggling to build intercontinental ballistic missiles, but even then assumed that it would eventually be able to produce them and have nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching all of its adversaries.

The defense agency's nuclear warhead conclusion comes as the U.S. and other world powers have focused new attention on North Korea's military ambitions. The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang last weekend in an effort to cut $1 billion of its $3 billion in annual export income.

President Donald Trump commended the international community Tuesday for confronting North Korea over its nuclear weapons development, even as his United Nations envoy said she is skeptical that the latest sanctions will deter Pyongyang.

Trump, on what he calls a working vacation at his golf resort in New Jersey, said in a Twitter comment, "After many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!"

But Trump's U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, told NBC's "Today Show" that the newest United Nations sanctions are not "going to stop our North Korea problem." Nonetheless, she said the penalties would "send a very strong message."

She reiterated that Trump "has said all options are on the table," including an armed strike to thwart the North Korean threat, Pyongyang's claim that its missiles can now reach the U.S. mainland.

"We’ll do whatever it takes to counter North Korea," she said.

As for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Haley said, "He has to decide if he strikes the United States, is that something he can win?"