North Korea's short and medium-range projectiles pose one of biggest ballistic missile threats to the United States, along with those from Iran and China, a Congressional report has said.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a Washington-based think tank, in its report "Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense", released on Wednesday, said that North Korea has hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) in-store that can inflict massive damage on all of South Korea and perhaps dozens of medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) capable of destroying Japan and the American bases in the region, Yonhap news agency reported.
"North Korea is in the process of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capability that could strike the US homeland with a nuclear warhead," the report said, adding that it is yet unclear "whether any of their ballistic missiles are armed with a nuclear warhead."
The assessment this time is similar as that done in the CRS report released in December last year, except the increase in the number of ground-based interceptors (GBIs) deployed in the US from 30 to 44 during the cited period.
The interceptors -- now expanding to 64 -- are aimed at destroying ICBM attacks, including those from North Korea and Iran, it said.
North Korea has conducted a series of short-range ballistic missile tests in the past months, followed by a test-firing of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) last week.
On Thursday, North Korea said such test-firing was part of its right to self-defence, slamming European Union members of the UN Security Council for issuing a statement condemning the latest SLBM test.
The United States and North Korea held a working-level meeting last week to resume their denuclearisation negotiations after months of a stalemate, but the talks broke off again with the North accusing Washington of failing to come up with a new proposal.
( With inputs from ANI )