STRATCOM ON NORTH KOREAN THREAT
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command that directs America’s nuclear forces, recently warned that North Korea’s nuclear missile capability is growing and that he assumes Pyongyang already can threaten the United States.
Asked about recent intelligence assessments indicating North Korea will field its long-range nuclear missile capability sooner than expected, Gen. Hyten said his calculation of the missile threat has not changed.
“I can’t put a date on it, but it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and I have to assume that the ‘when’ is in the very near term,” Gen. Hyten told reporters in Omaha, Nebraska, last month.
Gen. Hyten said North Korea still must overcome “a number of technical thresholds” before the communist state’s nuclear missile is fielded.
“You can get into debates with a number of technical experts, about ‘Well, they really haven’t done this; they really haven’t done that,’ or they’re a year away or two years away or five years away. All of those things from a military perspective, from a commander’s perspective of U.S. Strategic Command, I have to assume that it’s going to be in the near term,” he said.
“And if we assume it’s going to be in the near term, then we have to postured to respond to that threat in the near term,” Gen. Hyten said. “Because anything else creates a position of weakness in our deterrent message and we don’t want to have any weakness in our deterrent message.”
The commander’s comments were made before President Trump unleashed threatening rhetoric against the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday.
Mr. Trump announced North Korea should back off making threats against the U.S. or face “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
The remarks appeared to mimic North Korean state media that frequently threatens to turn South Korea into a “sea of fire.” North Korea also has produced propaganda videos showing the simulated burning of Washington and New York following a North Korean nuclear strike.