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'N. Korea poses one of biggest ballistic missile threats to US'

This file photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency in May 2019, shows North Korea's test fire of the Pukguksong-2 (KN-15) ballistic missile. South Korea's military said on Oct. 2 that Pyongyang fired what was believed to be a Pukguksong-type, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from waters off its east coast earlier in the day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)
This file photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency in May 2019, shows North Korea's test fire of the Pukguksong-2 (KN-15) ballistic missile. South Korea's military said on Oct. 2 that Pyongyang fired what was believed to be a Pukguksong-type, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from waters off its east coast earlier in the day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea's short- and medium-range ballistic missiles represent one of the "ballistic missile threats of most concern" to the United States, along with those from Iran and China, a U.S. congressional report has said.

North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) that can reach all of South Korea and perhaps dozens of medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases in the region, according to the Congressional Research Service's "Defense Primer: Ballistic Missile Defense" updated Wednesday.

"North Korea is in the process of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capability that could strike the U.S. homeland with a nuclear warhead," it said, though adding that it is yet unclear "whether any of their ballistic missiles are armed with a nuclear warhead."

The assessment is the same as that of the CRS report released in December last year, except the increase in the number of ground-based interceptors (GBIs) deployed in the U.S. 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-defense, slamming European Union members of the U.N. 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 denuclearization negotiations after months of a stalemate, but the talks broke off again with the North accusing the U.S. of failing to come up with a new proposal. (Yonhap)

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