Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of U.S. military forces in Korea, outlined what he said is a continuing threat to Northeast Asia and the world from North Korea’s military, missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
“I think what you see with the North Korean threat today, what causes me the biggest concern, are the development of asymmetric threats,” he said.
Those threats include missiles, long-range artillery, special operations forces, chemical and biological weapons, cyberwarfare capabilities and 1.1 million troops — 73 percent of whom are deployed near the border with South Korea.
The four-star general, who is retiring after nearly 40 years in the military, also was asked about North Korea’s new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, dubbed the KN-08. He said it poses a serious threat because of the difficulty of tracking and targeting the hard-to-find systems.
“That is a system that’s in their portfolio that we remain concerned about,” Gen. Thurman said.
“We’ve observed it during two military parades in Pyongyang. It’s difficult to assess the full operational capability of that system. Of concern to us, obviously, is the rogue mobile capability and our ability to detect that.”
The new missile, deployed on a Chinese-made transporter-erector launcher, shows North Korea’s drive to build long-range missiles.
“They’ve openly stated that they’re developing the capability to strike the continental United States, and we take that very serious,” Gen. Thurman said.