Experts have long been divided on whether North Korea has made much headway on clearing that hurdle, though the general consensus is they are not there yet. David Albright and Andrea Stricker, of the Institute for Science and International Security, said the latest test could be a measure of progress.
‘‘Although more information is needed to make a sound assessment, this test could, as North Korea has stated, demonstrate this capability,’’ they said in a statement. ‘‘ISIS has also assessed that North Korea still lacks the ability to deploy a warhead on an ICBM, although it shows progress at this effort.’’
Even so, they stressed North Korea could be years away from having a credible nuclear weapon that it could launch at the United States.
They said North Korea will need to conduct missile flight tests with a re-entry vehicle and mock warhead, increase the explosive yield of its warheads, possibly working to make them smaller, and improve the reliability of both its warheads and missiles.
Associated Press writers Foster Klug in Seoul, South Korea, and Kimberly Dozier in Washington contributed to this report.