(National Sentinel)Â National Security:Â The commander of all U.S. forces in Korea said that North Korea’s latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was a “game-changer” because it means Pyongyang can strike the United States with a nuclear weapon much sooner than anticipated.
As reported by theÂ Washington Free Beacon, Army Gen.Â Vincent Brooks, Commander, U.S. Forces Korea, said Wednesday thatÂ the July 4 test of what the military is calling a KN-20 missile moved up military analysts’ timeline for when they now expect Pyongyang to field a viable ICBM with range to strike the U.S.
That finding is also liable to hasten the Trump administration’s timeline for dealing with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat as well.
“It is a bit of a game changer for us,” the four-star general said of the missile test that flew 1,700 miles into space and flew for 37 minutes, which is longer than any previous missile the North has tested.
The WFB noted further:
A defense official said the new intelligence assessment, whichÂ was presentedÂ to Congress on Wednesday, concludes that North Korea’s missile program is advancing faster than earlier estimates had predicted.
The latest assessment says the missile can reach the West Coast of the United States. Earlier estimates said the KN-20 could only reach Alaska and Hawaii.
Additionally, North Korea appears to be preparing for another test of the KN-20 in the coming days, U.S. officials said. Another test would further heighten already high tensions.
The military currently has 36 long-range missile defense interceptors deployed in Alaska and California that are capable of knocking out a North Korean ICBM.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo has also said that North Korea’s advancing missile technology and nuclear capability is a much bigger threat today than at any time in the past — though he noted that Pyongyang’s ability to strike the U.S. right now is limited.
But he doesn’t expect that to last.
“When they get to that point, they hold the United States at risk; the president has made very, very clear he’s not going to permit that to happen,” Pompeo said.
Before the July 4 test, military analysts and experts had said they did not expect Pyongyang to develop an ICBM capable of striking the U.S. for at least another four years. Now, intelligence analysts believe North Korea could have a reliable, viable weapon fielded by year’s end.
“Kim Jong Un is seeking the development of a credible, nuclear capability to deter what North Korea perceives to be hostility against it,” Brooks said earlier at a conference in Omaha, Neb., adding that its forces want to “hold at risk [South Korea], Japan, the full geography of the United States, and other countries in the region and well beyond the region.”
At the same time, Pyongyang is attempting to divide the five other nations that have worked to de-escalate the situation and convince North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs, all in an effort to “buy time” to continue development, said Brooks.
“So that means we’re in a race, a race against time, and a race against a contest of will,” he added.