North Korea is capable of hitting the United States with a long-range nuclear missile, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command said last week.
“I agree with the intel community that we assess that they have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the homelands,” said Adm. William Gortney, the Northcom commander who is also in charge of defending the United States from long-range missile attack.
“And as the defender of North America, the United States officially, in the ballistic missile defense, I think the American people expect me to take the threat seriously,” he said Wednesday at the Atlantic Council.
The comments by Gortney were made days before North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang marking the anniversary of the founding of the ruling communist Worker’s Party of Korea. Military analysts say the parade showcased a new variant of a long-range road-mobile missile built with Chinese assistance.
The parade showed what state-run North Korean media claimed was a variant of the KN-08 road-mobile missile, first shown several years ago in another military parade. The missile was shown carried on a Chinese-made transporter erector launcher.
“With the vengeful desire to turn the citadel of our enemies into a sea of fire, our powerful tactical rockets loaded with diversified and miniaturized nuclear warheads are on the move,” a North Korean commentator said during the parade as several columns of the mobile missiles were shown on television.
Mobile missiles are considered a greater strategic threat than silo-based missiles because they are more difficult to track and can be set up and launched with little or no warning.