The missile defense capability of the U.S. is "clearly focused" on North Korea more than China or Iran, Gen. John Hyten said on Tuesday. Hyten also warned it was likely Pyongyang would "actually fire" a missile at the U.S.
"Our national missile defense capability is clearly focused on North Korea right now, not on China, Russia and Iran," the U.S. Air Force general said during a webinar hosted by think tank the Center for Strategic International Studies. "Without going into the classified details...I'll just say...go and look at the video of the North Korean parade, and you will just see different missiles coming through on that parade."
North Korea Could 'Actually Fire' Missile at US
Hyten, who serves as the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, underscored the need for Washington to continue to work on its defense capability to tackle any threat from North Korea. He also stated that there was a possibility that Pyongyang could use its missiles because of which Washington was developing next generation interceptors.
"North Korea is continuing to move forward in their capabilities, which means on the defensive side, we have to continue to move forward as well. ... "[T]here's a chance they would actually fire it at us, and therefore we want the ability to shoot it down," Hyten said. "We have to make sure that as we go forward, we maintain the ability to deny the North Koreans the ability to effectively attack the United States with confidence."
Pyongyang's Self-Imposed Moratorium on Nuclear, Missile Tests: But For How Long?
North Korea's recent nuclear weapons tests were in September 2017 and launched Hwasong-15 ballistic missile in November the same year. Pyongyang maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests following talks with then President Donald Trump.
However, the isolated nation's supreme leader Kim Jon Un threatened in January to lift the moratorium after Washington conducted joint military drills with South Korea. He made the comments during a four-day gathering of party leaders in Pyongyang.
"Under such condition, there is no ground for us to get unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer, the commitment to which there is no opposite party, and this is chilling our efforts for worldwide nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," Kim reportedly said at the time.
The North Korean leader also warned that "the world will witness a new strategic weapon" from Pyongyang "in the near future." However, he did not elaborate on the kind of strategic weapon he referred.