The intelligence community is working on a new assessment of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile program, according to the nation's top intelligence official.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced the broad effort during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday.
He sought to set the record straight following controversy over a Pentagon intelligence assessment of Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities that surfaced unexpectedly last week amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.
In that case, an unclassified part of an otherwise secret analysis concluded with moderate confidence that North Korea could now deliver a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile.
Clapper and the Defense Department said soon after the disclosure of the Defense Intelligence Agency report at a congressional hearing that the finding was not shared by other members of the intelligence community.
North Korea, he said, has not "fully developed, tested or demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile," Clapper said on Thursday.
He added that it requires sophisticated analysis to make such a determination.
"It is indeed rocket science," he said.
The U.S. intelligence community is comprised of 16 agencies and departments across the government.
The disclosure last week followed weeks of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang threatening nuclear attacks on the United States, South Korea and their allies.
Clapper also explained to senators that there is a lack of uniform agreement on many things associated with North Korea.
In this case, he said, the difference is about the confidence level in its ability to successfully launch a nuclear weapon in a missile.
"Neither we nor the North Koreans know whether that will actually work," Clapper said. "DIA has a higher confidence level than the rest of the community."
Clapper said the disagreement isn't about "infighting" within the intelligence community but represents a healthy debate about what is known to be a fact versus how "to impute from those facts."
He pointed to the hard lessons learned from the erroneous national intelligence assessment 10 years ago which indicated Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, one of the key reasons the United States went to war with Saddam Hussein.
The intelligence community was accused of group-think and failing to acknowledge alternative viewpoints.
The Armed Services Committee hearing on world threats also touched on a number of other hot button issues including the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, the Syrian civil war and the effects of forced budget cuts on the intelligence community.