The Pentagon is trying to be tactful about how it presents the threat of North Korea firing a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States. But the brass is starting to seem a little cagey when it comes down to giving the American public clear answers. You can't blame them. It's a cagey situation.
Let's get specific. At exactly 7:32 p.m. on Thursday evening, Reuters published two separate stories about the Pentagon's position on North Korea's nuclear capabilities. One reflects what outlets like The New York Times are reporting about the military's latest position on the issue. The other appears to reflect the opposite. One headline reads, "Pentagon says North Korea can likely launch nuclear missile." The other reads, " 'Inaccurate' to suggest North Korea has proven nuclear missile ability: Pentagon."
Does anybody else think those two headlines about what's essentially the same story is a little misleading? Don't blame Reuters. It's simply quoting what Pentagon officials have been saying.
It's at first unclear why the Pentagon is sending out seemingly conflicting statements, but when you read closer, you realize that the wording is carefully selected so that they're not actually conflicting. Speaking at a a hearing of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Rep. Doug Lamborn quoted a Defense Intelligence Agency paper from March. At that point in time, the Pentagon said that the "DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles, however the reliability will be low."