North Korea 'has nuclear weapon it can mount on rocket' warns US, as John Kerry warns missile launch would be 'huge mistake'

Mr Kerry arrived South Korea as part of a unusual diplomatic journey, traveling directly into a region bracing for a possible North Korean missile test

US secretary of state John Kerry has warned that threats of a nuclear test from North Korea will 'gain nothing' and that an anticipated missile launch by Pyongyang would be a "provocative act" and a "huge mistake".

Mr Kerry arrived in South Korea this morning as part of an unusual diplomatic journey, traveling directly into a region bracing for a possible North Korean missile test and risking that his presence alone could spur Pyongyang into another headline-seeking provocation.

Mr Kerry said the US and its Asian ally will not accept the North as a nuclear power, adding that its rhetoric is "unacceptable".

South Korean foreign minister Yun Byung-se called Pyongyang's threats a "grave provocation" to the entire international community.

Earlier intelligence reports from Japan, South Korea and America claim a North Korean missile test could take place at any time it emerged today as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the South Korean capital Seoul.

A US agency said last night that North Korea has a nuclear weapon it can mount on a missile, adding an ominous dimension to the tensions on the Korean peninsula as Kerry arrived for talks.

However, the assessment by the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) was swiftly dismissed by several US officials and South Korea.

Asked if war was imminent, a US official in South Korea said: "Not at all".

Washington was quick to clarify the meaning of the DIA statement saying: "In today's House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Department of Defence budget, a member of the committee read an unclassified passage in a classified report on North Korea's nuclear capabilities," Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

"While I cannot speak to all the details of a report that is classified in its entirety, 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."

Despite this the US government is said to be concerned about the potential for a miscalculation by North Korea's inexperienced 30-year-old leader, Kim Jong-un.

Kim Jong-un's youth and inexperience make him very vulnerable to miscalculation. Our greatest concern is a miscalculation and where that may lead," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We have seen no indications of massive troop movements, or troops massing on the border, or massive exercises or anything like that that would back up any of the rhetoric that is going on."

Bellicose rhetoric from the secretive regime has become increasingly frequent in recent months as the young leader attempts to sure-up support at home.

The regime has also been angered at the imposition of new sanctions on the country following an underground nuclear test in February this year.

It was the third such test carried out by the regime in just seven years.

Annual joint military drills carried out by South Korea and the US last month, which included the use of B-2 nuclear enabled stealth bombers, also further raised tensions on the peninsula.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project