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North Korea has reportedly miniaturized nuclear weapons: 5 things to know

Intelligence officials believe North Korea has produced a nuclear warhead small enough to fit inside its missiles, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing an unreleased report from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

>> Read more trending news

That would mean North Korea has passed a crucial threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.

Here’s what you need to know about North Korea and nuclear threat:

Nuclear weapons small enough to fit onto intercontinental ballistic missiles

The confidential DIA assessment, which was dated July 28, was partially read to the Post. Its contents were verified by a pair of unidentified U.S. officials familiar with the document.

 >> Related: What is an ICBM and why should we be worried at North Korea has one? 

“The (intelligence community) assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” an excerpt of the assessment said, according to the newspaper.

Officials believed that it would still be years before North Korean scientists were able to design warheads compact enough to be delivered by missile, according to the Post

Tension mounts between North Korea, U.S.

President Donald Trump reacted within hours of the Post report, telling reporters gathered for a photo op at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course that any threats made against the United States would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

He said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “has been very threatening.”

"As I said, they will be met with fire, fury and frankly, power -- the likes of which this world has never seen before,” Trump said.

Japanese assessment says miniaturization ‘possible’

An annual white paper released Tuesday by Japan’s Defense Ministry determined that “it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads,” according to The Associated Press.

Japan, a key U.S. ally, is also a potential target of North Korean aggression.

North Korea claimed it launched its first ICBM in July

Pyongyang claimed in July that officials had successfully launched an ICBM for the first time, in spite of a United Nations ban. Such missiles can carry a warhead over more than 3,400 miles through air and space.

>> Related: North Korea fires intercontinental ballistic missile, Pentagon says 

As of Aug. 8, North Korea has conducted 14 missile tests this year.

Missile tested last month could reach U.S.

The North Korean Hwasong-14/KN20 intercontinental ballistic missile fired last by North Korea could have the range to reach Washington, D.C., or New York City, according to thediplomat.com, while other sources estimated it could hit Chicago or Denver.

>> Related: Reports: Latest North Korean missile could reach Chicago, East Coast

The website, citing sources in the U.S. government, said based on the missile’s flight time and it’s 3,700 mile-high apogee, it showed a vast improvement from the test of the missile in early July, and could reach as far as Washington, D.C., while carrying a nuclear warhead.

The Associated Press and the Dayton Daily News contributed to this report.

Vladimir Putin bares chest, goes spearfishing

Russian president Vladimir Putin took a short vacation to begin August, heading to Tuva in southern Siberia to fish, swim and catch some rays.

In images and footage released by Russian state television, Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu can be seen enjoying the outdoors, The Associated Press reports. Putin is seen swimming and fishing, including spending two hours hunting a pike while spearfishing.

>> Read more trending news

Most of the images of Putin feature him bare-chested, except for the photos where Putin dons a wetsuit.

Putin is known for his love of adventure and the outdoors, and has taken active vacations since becoming Russia's president, The Associated Press reports.

Trump pressured Mexican president to drop public opposition of border wall

President Donald Trump urged Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to refrain from saying outright that Mexico will not pay to build a wall between their two countries, according to a transcript of the call published Thursday by The Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news

Trump touted his proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico in the race to the White House, making it a central campaign promise and vowing to make America’s southern neighbor pay for the wall.

But during a Jan. 27 phone call with Pena Nieto Trump admitted that funding would have to come from other sources, telling the Mexican president that “it will work out in the formula somehow,” according to the Post transcript.

“The fact is we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall – I have to,” Trump said.

He urged Pena Nieto to stop saying that Mexico wouldn’t pay for the wall and threatened to cut communications should he refuse.

“What I would like to recommend is – if we are going to have continued dialogue – we will work out the wall,” Trump said. “They are going to say, ‘Who is going to pay for the wall, Mr. President?’ to both of us, and we should both say, ‘We will work it out.’”

The two leaders spoke one day after Pena Nieto cancelled a planned trip to the U.S. and reiterated his refusal to have Mexico pay for the border wall.

For his part, Pena Nieto said he would be willing to work with Trump to find a solution for both countries, but warned that Trump had put “a very big mark on our back … regarding who pays for the wall.”

“This is what I suggest, Mr. President – let us stop talking about the wall,” Pena Nieto said. “I have recognized the right of any government to protect its borders as it deems necessary and convenient. But my position has been, and will continue to be, very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall.”

“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump replied. “The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that.”

The transcript was one of two reportedly prepared by the White House and released by the Post.

In a separate call on Jan. 28, a conversation between Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned contentious after they clashed over the issue of refugees. Trump characterized the conversation as “ridiculous.”

The White House did not immediately comment on the transcripts.

Vladimir Putin to expel hundreds of U.S. diplomats from Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly will require the U.S. embassy in Moscow to cut its staff by 755 in response to Congress’ vote Thursday to increase sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” that the U.S. had it coming.

“I think retaliation is long, long overdue,” he said. “We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal.”

He added: “If the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer, we will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate. ... But my whole point is, don’t do this, it is to the detriment of the interests of the US.”

Putin gave a TV interview with Rossiya 1 and said he doesn’t see things changing soon.

“We waited for quite some time that maybe something will change for the better, had such hope that the situation will somehow change, but, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon,” he said.

>> Read more trending news

Russian’s Foreign Ministry on Friday ordered a reduction by Sept. 1 in the number of U.S. diplomats in Russia. It said it is ordering the U.S. Embassy to limit the number of embassy and consular employees in the country to 455 in response to the U.S. Senate’s approval of a new package of sanctions.

Putin said the response would be “painful” for the U.S., but he opposes further measures at this time.

“We certainly have something to respond with and restrict those areas of joint cooperation that will be painful for the American side but I don’t think we need to do it,” he said.

In December, in former President Barack Obama’s final days in office, 35 Russian diplomats were expelled from buildings in New York and Maryland.

“These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” then-President Obama said in a letter, explaining sanctions.

Obama said the sanctions were a response to “a global campaign of malicious cyber activities” conducted by Russia.

It is now up to President Donald Trump to sign the sanctions into law or veto, and the White House says he will sign it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reports: Latest North Korean missile could reach Chicago, East Coast

The North Korean Hwasong-14/KN20 intercontinental ballistic missile fired Friday by North Korea could hit Washington D.C. or New York City, according to thediplomat.com, while other sources estimated it could hit Chicago or Denver.

>> Read more trending news

The website, citing sources in the U.S. government, said based on the missile’s flight time and it’s 3,700 mile-high apogee, it showed a vast improvement from the test of the missile in early July, and could reach as far as Washington, D.C., while carrying a nuclear warhead.

Scientist David Wright of The Union of Concerned Scientists estimated the missile could fly a range of 10,400 kilometers, potentially 11,000 km. Ranges would be based on the size of the payload it was carrying. 

>> Related: North Korea fires intercontinental ballistic missile, Pentagon says

Anna Fifield, the Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post, wrote the missile could at least hit Chicago, with New York a possibility

The Russian Ministry of Defense’s assessment was quite different. The Russians said the launch Friday was 732 km, far below the estimates of the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and China. 

Thediplomat.com is the website for The Diplomat Magazine, an international news publication covering politics and society in the Asia-Pacific region out of Tokyo. 

North Korea fires intercontinental ballistic missile, Pentagon says

An intercontinental ballistic missile fired by North Korea on Friday traveled about 1000 km from Mupyong-ni before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, Pentagon officials said.

>> Read more trending news

The U.S. Department of Defense detected the launch around 10:40 a.m. EDT. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement that officials were assessing the launch Friday.

"The North American Aerospace Defense Command determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America," Davis said. "Our commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remain ironclad. We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation."

Pakistan’s prime minister resigns after being disqualified from office

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from office Friday by the country’s Supreme Court after a corruption probe into his family wealth, CNN reported. A spokesman said Sharif resigned despite having reservations about the court order.

>> Read more trending news 

The court said that Sharif was dishonest to the Pakistani parliament and judicial system, a panel of five judges ruled unanimously Friday. 

“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister,”Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court.

The panel had been investigating Sharif's alleged links to offshore accounts and overseas properties owned by three of his children, CNN reported.

The assets, which were not declared on the family's wealth statement, were revealed in the Panama Papers leak in April 2016.

Sharif, 67, has denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed the investigation into him as biased and inaccurate. Reuters reported.

Rick Perry duped by Russian comedians in prank call

Energy Secretary Rick Perry believed he was speaking to the Ukrainian prime minister in a phone call last week, but was actually speaking to two men who call themselves “Jerky Boys.”

>> Listen to the interview here

A spokesman for the Energy Department confirmed that Perry was prank-called, speaking to “two Russian pranksters,” according to the Washington Post and Pravda Report.

The pair refer to themselves as the “Jerky Boys of Russia.”

Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov have made a sort of career from prank-calling celebrities and national leaders, including Elton John and Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan.

>> Sean Spicer could be joining ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ report says

A statement to the Washington Post from Energy Department spokesperson Shalylyn Nynes reads:

"These individuals are known for pranking high-level officials and celebrities, particularly those who are supportive of an agenda that is not in line with their governments. In this case, the energy security of Ukraine."

As secretary of energy, Rick Perry is responsible for the security of much of the United States’ nuclear materials, as well as the cybersecurity of the American energy grid, among other objectively serious tasks.

>> Read more trending news

Perry and the “Ukranian Prime Minister” spoke about a wide variety of topicsThe Washington Post reports that the three touched on a pipeline in the Baltic Sea, cyberattacks on the American power grid, the United States' withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, and a new fuel source derived from moonshine and pig manure.

Chinese censors block Winnie the Pooh

The Chinese government is blocking social media posts including the image of A.A. Milne’s beloved Winnie the Pooh, apparently due to constant comparisons between the cartoon bear and Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The Guardian reported that references to “Little Bear Winnie,” Winnie the Pooh’s Chinese name, were bringing up errors on Monday for some social media users in China.

Authorities didn’t explain the decision to block to bear, according to The Guardian. However, BBC News reported that bloggers’ comparison of Pooh’s image to that of the country’s president prompted the clampdown.

“It is not only that China's censors will not tolerate ridicule of the country's leader, they do not want this beloved children's character becoming a kind of online euphemism for the Communist Party's general secretary,” according to the news site’s China blog. “In other countries such comparisons might be thought of as harmless enough and some might even think that having Winnie as your mascot could even be quite endearing: not in China.”

The New York Times reported that government censors have been battling with Pooh bear since at least 2013, when an image of Xi and then-President Barack Obama drew comparisons to Winne the Pooh and Tigger. Since then, multiple social media users have compared Pooh to Xi.

Photos: Jimmy Carter through the years

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