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Donald Trump’s claim nuke couldn’t reach U. S. may underestimate North Korea’s nuclear program

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NewsHubSEOUL, Korea, Republic Of – U. S. President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to vow that North Korea won’t develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the United States. But it might already have done so.
Views vary, sometimes wildly, on the exact state of North Korea’s closely-guarded nuclear and missile programs, but after five atomic test explosions and a rising number of ballistic missile test launches, some experts believe North Korea can arm short- and mid-range missiles with atomic warheads.
READ MORE: North Korea ‘won’t’ develop nuclear weapon capable of reaching US, Donald Trump says
That would allow Pyongyang to threaten U. S. forces stationed in Asia and add teeth to its threat last year to use nuclear weapons to “sweep Guam, the base of provocations, from the surface of the earth.”
Guam is a strategically important U. S. territory in the Pacific. Some experts see the U. S. mainland as potentially within reach in as little as five years if North Korea’s nuclear progress isn’t stopped.
Trump’s tweet on Monday night U. S. time was in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who said Sunday in his annual New Year’s address that preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile have “reached the final stage.” He did not explicitly say a test was imminent.
Trump tweeted, “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U. S. It won’t happen!”
READ MORE: North Korea says long-range missiles development is ‘in final stages’
Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway said Monday on MSNBC that the world should be grateful Trump told millions of people that, where the North Korean threat is concerned, “he intends to stop it.”
WATCH: Donald Trump blames Hillary Clinton for North Korea’s nuclear tests
North Korea, poor, suspicious of outsiders and governed by a third-generation dictator, is used to being underestimated and mocked. Few believed it could build a nuclear program that would keep U. S. presidents since the early 1990s up at night.
Armed to the teeth, acutely bellicose and not afraid to push tensions on the Korean Peninsula to the brink, Pyongyang could be among Trump’s top foreign policy challenges.
Here’s a look at how close North Korea may already be to proving Trump’s tweet wrong:
THE NUKES
There’s a general consensus that Pyongyang has made significant nuclear and missile progress under Kim, who took over after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in late 2011.

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