Photo: Reuters / Issei Kato

US experts believe North Korea could conduct a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean, following remarks from Pyongyang last week of its capabilities.

Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA analyst, said Wednesday that North Korea has the capacity to carry out a nuclear test beyond its borders, as it continues to pursue weapons proliferation, US-government funded Voice of America said in a report picked up by other news organizations.

Terry and other analysts were speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

UPI said Terry’s analysis comes at a time when the Pentagon is preparing to bolster its missile defense program.

Defense News reported on Thursday that the US military is requesting US$416 million in funds, some of it unspent Army and Army Reserve operation funds, to be allocated to increasing the number of ground-based interceptors and missile-launch facilities, or silos.

Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military has looked at radar systems, including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot anti-missile systems. The additional funds would include money to improve missile interceptor systems in Alaska and Hawaii.

Expert doubts if ICBM can be intercepted

Joe Brazda, a US arms control expert, told Asia Times last week that he doubts if the US can currently shoot down a nuclear-armed missile fired by North Korea at the US mainland. He also believes North Korea’s mobile Hwasong-14 ICBM can easily reach Chicago and even the US East Coast.