US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

CIA director Mike Pompeo has said in a US TV interview that North Korea is only “a handful of months” from being able to to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland.

Pompeo made the remark in a CBS TV interview aired on Monday. Asked if the US was aware that Pyongyang was getting ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test in September last year, Pompeo said: “We can always identify that the program is continuing.”

But the CIA chief also hinted that US intelligence on North Korea’s next moves is a less than perfect science.

“We’ll never know the exact nature of what’s taking place. We’ll never know the exact moment that they’re going to continue,” Pompeo said. “But the core risk that the policymakers needed to know was that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is continuing to expand, advance, become more powerful, more capable, more reliable.”

Some analysts say that North Korea can already hit US cities with its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile.

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