The commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific on Tuesday said he takes the threat of North Korea's work on strategic ballistic missiles seriously, regardless of their current capabilities.
Pyongyang thus far has revealed two developmental intercontinental-ballistic missiles. The older of the two, the Taepodong 2, had its first successful test-launch nearly a year ago while the newer one, the road-mobile KN-08, has never been flight-tested.
"For our military planning perspective, when I see the KN-08 road mobile missiles that appear in a North Korean military parade, I am bound to take that serious, but for not only the peninsula but also the region, as well as my own homeland," U.S. Pacific Command head Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear said in remarks reported on by the Yonhap News Agency.
Western missile experts are divided about just how far along Pyongyang is in its development of the KN-08, however they agree the mockups displayed at a July parade were more realistic than versions seen a year earlier.
In remarks to journalists at the Washington Foreign Press Center, the admiral said North Korea wants Washington to think it has the ability to carry out ICBM strikes on the continental United States.
"Whether they are real or not, or whether they have the capability or not, [the] North Korean regime wants us to think they do and so we plan for that" Locklear was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, A high-ranking anonymous South Korean official on Tuesday told Yonhap that while China's recent proposal for a path to rejuvenating nuclear negotiations with North Korea was "forward-looking," it did not go far enough in resolving U.S. and South Korean concerns. Seoul and Washington are reluctant to return to the frozen negotiations unless Pyongyang first demonstrates a concrete commitment to denuclearization.
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