"INACCURATE"

The debate about North Korea's nuclear ability focuses on whether it has a warhead small enough to mount on a missile and whether it can then ensure that missile re-enters the earth's atmosphere.

North Korea last tested a long-range rocket in December. It launched the rocket into space for the first time but the rocket did not successfully re-enter.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said "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" of the DIA report.

The conclusion of the DIA was not shared by the wider US intelligence community, US National Intelligence Director James Clapper said in a statement.

The strong consensus inside the US government is that North Korea does not yet have a nuclear device that would fit longer-range missiles that conceivably could hit the US mainland.

Civilian experts have also said there was no evidence North Korea had tested the complex art of miniaturizing a nuclear weapon to be placed on a long-range missile, a capability the United States, Russia, China and others achieved decades ago.

Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence analyst now with the Arms Control Association advocacy group, said that while he did not have access to the classified material cited in Congress, what was said publicly about DIA's assessment sounded quite tentative.

"It really says to me that this is a speculative statement," Thielmann said. "Moderate (confidence) is higher than low confidence but it doesn't say they know very much."

Lamborn, the congressman, said the DIA reached the conclusion in a mostly classified March 2013 report. He did not say what range the nuclear-capable North Korean missiles might have.

US spy agencies believe the threats of war from North Korea mainly represent an effort by new leader Kim Jong-un to demonstrate he is in command, Clapper said on Thursday.

New South Korean President Park Geun-hye said late on Thursday she was open to resume dialogue with the North and would continue to offer humanitarian aid.

Her long-standing policy is that the North needs to abandon its nuclear programme before it gets aid.

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