Originally published November 4 2014
North Korea could be capable of launching nuclear attack on U.S. homeland, general warns
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A recent nuclear weapons explosion drill in New York City. President Obama saying in March that he "continues to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan." And North Korea's continued nuclear weapons development. Are all of these connected somehow?
That's at least a possibility, given what a top U.S. general said recently regarding Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities.
The U.S. and the world already know that North Korea has a nuclear capability; the North has tested nuclear devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013. But thus far, few experts have said they believe the North has the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads and place them atop ballistic missiles.
But Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon October 24, said while the changes are "pretty darn low" that such a missile system would be accurate, because the North has not yet tested one, it is highly possible that Pyongyang may nevertheless possess a ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S.
Scaparrotti, currently the commander of United Nations Command, R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, says the North has claimed to possess such a missile, which it says would be launched from a road-mobile launcher, which makes it more difficult to track and monitor via satellite.
'They have been working on this a long time'
And while some experts have expressed doubts, Scaparotti says it would be irresponsible of him to simply discount such claims.
"Personally I think that they certainly have had the expertise in the past," Scaparrotti said, according to The Associated Press (AP). "They've had the right connections, and so I believe they have the capability to have miniaturized a device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have."
But, he added: "We have not seen it tested. And I don't think as a commander we can afford the luxury of believing perhaps they haven't gotten there."
Later, Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, was asked if Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed with Scaparrotti's assessment. He replied:
The secretary shares the general's concerns about their attempts to acquire this capability. The secretary agrees with Gen. Scaparrotti that this is a capability that they want. And I think the secretary also shares the general's views of the seriousness of the matter.
But he also said there is no "smoking gun piece of evidence" at present to indicate that the North has developed a long-range nuclear ballistic missile capability, though Pyongyang has long sought it.
'No-notice' ballistic missile testing
The AP reported that the missile in question is designated the KN-08. In January, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional committee that Pyongyang has taken the first steps toward actually fielding the missile, though at that point it had not yet been tested.
When asked further about the capability and whether North Korea has the capability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, Scaparotti answered: "I don't know that they do. What I'm saying is, is that I think given their technological capabilities, the time that they [have] been working on this, that they probably have the capabilities to put this together."
Still, he, too, stressed that no test of the KN-08 had yet taken place.
"For something that's that complex, without it being tested, the probability of it being effective is pretty darn low," he said.
Aside from that, the Army general criticized what he called a recent series of "no-notice" ballistic missile tests by the North's military this year.
"We are concerned that such events could start a cycle of action and counteraction, leading to an unintended, uncontrolled escalation," said Scaparotti. "This underscores the need for the alliance to work together, to be vigilant and to be ready to act."
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