By Pam Benson and Chris Lawrence
Despite the uproar over a disclosure this week of Pentagon intelligence concluding North Korea may be able to deliver a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile, it's not the first time the Defense Intelligence Agency has suggested Pyongyang had that capability.
Since 2005, two former DIA chiefs have raised the possibility during congressional testimony.
At a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing in April 2005, then-DIA director Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby acknowledged the possibility in response to a question about whether North Korea had the capability to put a nuclear device on a missile.
"The assessment is that they have the capability to do that," Jacoby said.
As tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula, Wolf Blitzer explains what's behind the threats and what's at stake in a special edition of "The Situation Room," Thursday at 6 p.m. ET on CNN.
Are you from South or North Korea? Concerned about the latest crisis? Send us your thoughts.
US intelligence has seen missile and launch components move to the east coast of North Korea in the “last few days”, a US official with direct knowledge of the information tells CNN’s Barbara Starr.
The movements are consistent with that of a Musudan missile, the official said. The Musadan missile has a 2,500 mile range and can threaten South Korea, Japan, Guam and southeast Asia.
The US is looking for a hidden North Korean east coast launch site or mobile launchers, the official said, which are of concern because a launch from the east coast would go over Japan.
The official said it is believed such a missile launch would be a “test” launch rather than a targeted strike. That is because it appears the North Koreans have only moved components so far. The U.S. is waiting to see if North Korea issues a notice to its airmen and mariners to stay out of the region.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel quoted President Dwight D. Eisenhower Wednesday, telling rising military officers "the wise and prudent administration of the vast resources required by defense calls for extraordinary skill."
In his first major policy speech since taking over the Pentagon, Hagel focused on the budget problems facing the Defense Department and the rest of the government.
"A combination of fiscal pressures and a gridlocked political process has led to far more abrupt and deeper reductions than were planned for or expected. Now DoD is grappling with the serious and immediate challenge of sequester - which is forcing us to take as much as a $41 billion cut in this current fiscal year," Hagel said at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.
By Ed Payne, CNN
Reaction to North Korea's nuclear test - its third since 2006 - poured in Tuesday from around the world:
Barack Obama, U.S. president:
"This is a highly provocative act that ... undermines regional stability, violates North Korea's obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.
North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region."
"The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies."FULL STORY
By Jennifer Rizzo
While new satellite images show preparations for what is believed to be a coming long-range missile launch by North Korea, a second attempt in 2012 would be unprecedented, a top satellite image analyst told Security Clearance.
There have been four launches of this scale since 1998, including a failed attempt in April of this year. A second launch in 2012 would be the first time North Korea has launched two systems of this class, their largest missile class, in less than three years.
"The fact that they are now apparently preparing for a second launch in 2012 indicated that the decision to do this was made at the highest level," said DigitalGlobe analyst Joe Bermudez.
The North Koreans are looking for "maximum political impact" domestically, regionally and internationally with a test launch such as this, according to Bermudez, calling it a "very politically motivated event."
The timing of a launch at the end of this year would coincide with many consequential events, said Bermudez.
South Korea will be launching a rocket into space by the end of this week. North Korea and Japan will be holding another set of bilateral talks early in December and the South Korean presidential election will take place in less than a month. North Korea watchers say new leader Kim Jung Un may be responding to internal political pressure from hard-liners to send a message.
By Junko Ogura
Japanese prosecutors have indicted two American sailors on charges that they raped a Japanese woman on the island of Okinawa last month, a case that has deepened tensions between local residents and the U.S. military.
The two suspects, both from a base in Fort Worth, Texas, were indicted by Naha District Court on Tuesday afternoon, according to a statement from the public affairs office of the U.S. Commander, Naval Forces Japan.FULL STORY
A U.S. Navy sailor has been found dead with a head injury at a Japanese train station, local police said Monday.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Lewis Stiles was discovered surrounded by seven or eight alcoholic drink cans on the platform in Haiki Station in Nagasaki Prefecture at 5 a.m. Sunday, Haiki police said.
The death, which police say they are investigating as either an accident or a crime, comes at a delicate time for the U.S. military in Japan after two U.S. sailors were arrested earlier this month on accusations they raped a local woman.
That case provoked an angry reaction from Japanese officials, and the U.S. military responded by imposing a curfew on its troops in Japan. The curfew restricted military personnel to bases, personal homes or hotels between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
By Larry Shaughnessy
U.S. troops in Japan will soon be placed under more restrictive rules when they leave base after the arrests earlier this week of two U.S. sailors accused of raping a local woman in Okinawa.
The incident has created growing concern for the American military.
U.S. military sources tell CNN the commander of all U.S. troops in Japan is looking at possibly issuing more restrictive rules about what they can and cannot do when they leave base during off-duty hours. The Navy had just announced it was creating less restrictive rules for sailors behave off-duty. The new restrictions would apply not just to the Navy but to all U.S. military in Japan.
By Yoko Wakatsuki
Japanese officials expressed outrage after two U.S. sailors were arrested over accusations that they raped a woman on the island of Okinawa, where the American military presence has generated long-simmering resentment.
Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto on Wednesday called the alleged rape "vicious and mean" and said Japanese authorities were lodging protests with the U.S. government and military, as well as demands for better preventive measures.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who met with Morimoto over the matter, said it went "beyond madness" that the alleged attack took place two months after a U.S. Marine was arrested over accusations he assaulted and molested a woman in Naha, the capital of Okinawa.FULL STORY
By Larry Shaughnessy
The Pentagon launched a website Wednesday for American troops and family members who were near the Japanese nuclear reactors that were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011.
The website will allow Americans to enter a location where they were in Japan and get an estimation of how much radiation they were exposed to while there.