UN: North Korea may be capable of putting nuclear devices on ballistic missiles

ABC News contributor Stephen Ganyard discusses the significance of the UN report and what it means for the United States’ ability to control North Korea.
4:46 | 08/05/20

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Transcript for UN: North Korea may be capable of putting nuclear devices on ballistic missiles
After beginning his term going after North Korea's Kim Jong-un even taunting him with words like rocket man. The press made bold attempt to charting a new path with the isolated nation. But to. Failed summits and a dramatic meeting at the DMZ has yielded zero progress when it comes to denuclearization. Now a new UN report is reportedly revealing that North Korea has probably develop the capability to put nuclear devices on ballistic missiles. Joining us now is former deputy assistant secretary of state an ABC news contributor Steve being gay here's Steve if this report is act three what does it mean potentially in terms of our ability to contain North Korea. Hi and means that we failed and when I say we say every president the last twenty almost thirty years. You know mr. trump tried one approach. It is failed the president's before nimble democratic Republicans have tried more consistent approaches. And they have failed we've known that the that's a progress on the North Korean nuclear regime. Has continued and now the we have this UN report we have almost independent verification. That we believe that they miniaturized. In other words taken a nuclear weapon and made it small enough that it can go on a rocket that. It's theoretically could reach the East Coast of the United States and so. Hits your question is we have failed in the world is a much more dangerous place. And talk to us for minute about actually being able to put miniature nuclear weapons on a ballistic missile. What does that mean in terms of where they may now be able to potentially strike. Yet a first for any country to be able have the capability to have nuclear weapons in the threaten other countries are nuclear weapons they have to have several things one they have to have the rocket. So you have to a rocket that can go a long way. Then you have to be able to take that nuclear weapon and make it small enough thin and light enough so that that rocket can travel far distances. We've seen the first two out of the north Koreans what we haven't seen out of north Koreans is the ability to survive reentry. So that he did it's that's caused on reentry it was we saw that the dragons they can SpaceX capsule. Come down just a couple days ago it's the same idea when it re enters the atmosphere he gets very hot in. And it's very very difficult to have. The metallurgy and a capability to survive reentry. The fourth saying that the north Koreans have yet to demonstrate is the abilities target to put that nuclear weapon somewhere in the area that in the vicinity that they wanted to land so we've seen the first two and those are probably the most disconcerting. Because they can continue to threaten us we have to. We have to accept their bluff. Is it if it's a bluff if they say we can nuclear weapons and we can put him in South Korea or we can put him in San Francisco or Chicago. We have to accept that on face value because we have seen that miniature warhead miniaturized warhead and we have seen performance of the rockets. Theoretically able to reach the East Coast to the United States. Let me ask you this do you think it's a block. I think they're parts of the our bluff I don't think that they have the ability you reentry and I don't think they have the ability to target but you know India and horseshoes and anger and it's not close counts. And so in this sense is with something that we have to take seriously mr. Kim is using this to defend the regime. So we've we say always what is the intent of king of the Kim regime and that is survival. And so they believe that having a nuclear weapon won't prevent any kind of mineral a foundation from South Korea. He kind of pressure from the United States and it will ensure the continuity of the regime because that is foremost. On their agenda. Some North Korea has not conducted a nuclear tests since 2017 but just last week Kim Jung and said there'd be no more war because the country's nuclear weapons guarantee is safety how can they make advancements on their program in spite of the sanctions that we have in place. Yeah ED you know the up until a couple of years ago there were African nations. That were more sanction and then North Korea and the sanctions on North Korea are not that hard and then you have countries like China that regularly train and bus the sanctions so Chinese ships are constantly trading coal and Goodson and shipping oil in the North Korea so the sanctions are so porous. That they really do all they do is make life difficult for the north Koreans. But it really doesn't stop them from their weapons program remember that the other intended there weapons program is to make money they work very close with the Iranians and they export their capabilities we don't know yet but we assume that they're exporting nuclear capabilities. And rocket technologies to Iran and they get cold hard cash than that. And so that's what they're doing their Allard on the on the black listened market around the world selling these things. But they very the sanctions that are designed to to stop that are prevent that are as as loose is a sense of. This is a sense OK thank you so much seemed genuine always appreciate your insight thanks so much here thanks.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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