US has MINUTES to determine if a MISSILE is carrying a live warhead from North Korea

The expert said they do not have a specific policy of pre-emptive strikes prior to launch and if the US were to launch a missile, North Korea could claim they have been attacked.

The US now requires around the clock “flexible response” options to try to ensure everything is ready for a shoot-down of a threatening missile at any time.

Defence officials said Donald Trump’s approval is not required for a “self-defence” shoot-down to protect the US or its allies.

If Kim Jong-un and his dictator run state launched a missile, top commanders in Asia and the Pacific, as well as at the Pentagon and US Strategic Command would quickly gather for a secure meeting via phone or video to decide whether any action needs to be taken.

This comes amid US Defence and intelligence officials growing concerns after Kim Jong-un has not tested a ballistic missile in nearly two months.

Officials warn, however, that this could change imminently and the hermit kingdom could resume their weapons testing.

The US militaries biggest worry is that North Korea might conduct an atmospheric nuclear test after the regime has followed through on all of their threats to date.

US intelligence believes, however, that North Korea’s underground nuclear test site at Punggye-ri has been damaged due to underground seismic activity and could be unsuitable for use.

If the dictator’s regime were to start testing their weaponry above ground, officials warn that it raises the prospect of a test looking like a potential attack.

North Korea has already fired 22 missiles without active warheads during 15 tests since February.

US officials have already warned that North Korea are continuing to develop their missiles, rocket fuels and engines as well as targeting and guidance systems.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Jan-Marc Jouas warned in a leaked letter to members of Congress that US troops are vastly outnumbered and undersupplied if World War 3 breaks out.

The army veteran said even limited military action against North Korea could cause a full-scale war leaving the US “vastly outnumbered by North Korean forces.”

The use of nuclear weapons by Kim Jong-un could not be ruled out and a full-scale war would probably not destroy Pyongyang’s nuclear capability totally he warned.

Lt Gen Jouas said the US “are vastly outnumbered by North Korean forces, as well as allied forces that will conduct the overwhelming majority of the fighting.”

He went on to say that the US could also have problems in getting reinforcements or new supplies, adding troops “may well find their bases subject to attack by conventional or chemical weapons, which will further delay their entry into the war”.