North Korea could recommence nuclear missile tests this year, U.S. intelligence report suggests

North Korea's missile launches could be groundwork for a return to intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear bomb tests this year for the first time since 2017, Reuters reports.

A U.S. Directorate of National Intelligence (DNI) said in its annual Worldwide Threat Assessment released on Monday, dated February 7th, and released ahead of a congressional hearing on Tuesday, said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remained strongly committed to expanding his nuclear weapons arsenal and ballistic missile research and development.

It said the North Korea's continued development of ICBMs, intermediate range ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles showed the country's intention to bolster its nuclear delivery capability.

"In January, North Korea began laying the groundwork for an increase in tensions that could include ICBM or possibly a nuclear test this year - actions that Pyongyang has not taken since 2017," the report said.

"Flight tests are part of North Korea’s effort to expand the number and type of missile systems capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the entire United States," it added.

The DNI report said it based its assessment on information available as of January 21st.

The United States and 10 other countries on Monday bemoaned the failure of the United Nations Security Council to condemn North Korea's missile launches this year, saying this eroded the credibility both of the council and the global non- proliferation regime.

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