The US government believes North Korea has the capability to launch a nuclear weapon against the homeland and stands ready to defend against any such attacks, a high-level US military official has said.

Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said he agreed with US intelligence assessments that North Korea had nuclear weapons, as well as the ability to miniaturise them and put them on a rocket that could reach the United States.

“We assess that they have the capability to reach the homeland with a nuclear weapon from a rocket,” Gortney told an event on Wednesday hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank.

Gortney said it was very difficult to predict the behavior of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un but the US military was prepared to respond if he were to use a nuclear weapon.

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