U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and President Hu Jintao of China (Getty)

Reuters is reporting that North Korea is becoming a direct threat to the United States and could develop an intercontinental ballistic missile within five years, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Tuesday. Gates detailed the new U.S. assessment of Pyongyang's capabilities during a visit to Beijing, where he praised Chinese efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula but also stressed the urgency to rein in the reclusive state. China is North Korea's top diplomatic and economic backer, and Gates said it was "self-evident" that North Korea would likely come up in talks between Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington next week.

We're glad that Gates is finally stating concretely what many people have been thinking and saying: North Korea's proclivity for developing nuclear weapons is disconcerting at best and a direct  threat at worst. Hopefully, China and the U.S. will be able to do something about North Korea's practices before something really bad happens.

Read more at Reuters.

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