The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

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.

Other re­cent clas­si­fied doc­u­ments also have been with­held that could shed light on the po­ten­tial sur­vival of pris­on­ers of war from the Korean War and Cold War.

The Pen­tagon’s De­fense POW/MIA Ac­count­ing Agency, the lead unit for re­solv­ing miss­ing per­son­nel cases, re­mains with­out a direc­tor af­ter the of­fice’s chief, Michael Lin­ning­ton, quit in June 2016.

Rus­sia has re­fused to re­lease files from the KGB po­lit­i­cal po­lice and in­tel­li­gence ser­vice and the GRU mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence ser­vices on U.S. POWs held there. China as well has failed to sup­ply files on Amer­i­cans held by Bei­jing and known to be alive but never re­turned — af­ter the Pen­tagon paid China more than $100,000 for POW/MIA files that were never turned over.

The fam­ily mem­bers also are de­mand­ing that Pres­i­dent Trump and Congress pres­sure both Moscow and Bei­jing to help re­solve the cases of miss­ing ser­vice mem­bers, the group said in a press re­lease.

“We’ve run out of pa­tience and we’re run­ning out of time,” said Bob Moore, whose brother, Capt. Harry Moore, was shot down over North Korea in 1951 and ap­par­ently taken to the then-Soviet Union with other Amer­i­can avi­a­tors.

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