N.Korea may be ready to test more advanced ICBM: US Gen
North Korea's recent engine testing suggests that the country may be ready to test a more advanced inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could pose a greater threat to the US, an American General said.
Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the US Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, offered the assessment in a written statement to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces ahead of a hearing on fiscal year 2021 priorities for missile defence and missile defeat programs, reports the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency.
"Kim Jong-un has demonstrated the capability to threaten the US homeland with nuclear-armed ICBMs," he said.
"In 2017, North Korea successfully tested an apparent thermonuclear weapon as well as two ICBM designs capable of ranging most or all of North America -- feats only the five permanent members of the UN Security Council had previously achieved."
O'Shaughnessy recalled that after the North's last ICBM test in November 2017, Kim declared the research and development phase of the country's strategic weapons program complete and vowed to begin serial production and deployment of these new systems.
In the past year, the General said, North Korea tested several new short-range missile systems and demonstrated advancing technologies that could eventually be incorporated into its strategic systems.
Last December, Kim had stated it was time to take offensive measures to ensure the country's sovereignty and security and threatened to soon unveil a new strategic weapon.
"While Kim did not specify what this new weapon would be, recent engine testing suggests North Korea may be prepared to flight test an even more capable ICBM design that could enhance Kim's ability to threaten our homeland during a crisis or conflict," Yonhap News Agency quoted O'Shaughnessy as saying.
Late last year, North Korea threatened to send an unwanted "Christmas gift" to the US in protest of stalled denuclearization negotiations between the countries.
Many expected the "gift" to be an ICBM launch in the wake of its presumed engine tests, but there was no major provocation around Christmas and there have not been any since. IANS
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