North Korea and the KN-08 Threat

Despite the fact there’s been no verifiable test of North Korea’s road-mobile KN-08 ICBM, the US military must assume the missile can carry a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, said top US commanders in the region on Thursday. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, US Forces Korea Commander Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said North Korea has had “the time and the capability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead,” has declared the KN-08 is nuclear-capable, and has publicly displayed it. At the same hearing, US Pacific Command boss Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear told SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that the United States has not seen the North Koreans “effectively test” the missile yet, but PACOM is taking actions to protect against it. These include ensuring missile defenses are “optimized” and continuing to promote missile defense cooperation with Japan and South Korea. Locklear also said there are discussions on deploying a Terminal High Altitude Air Defense battery to South Korea to augment the battery on Guam. Earlier this month, Adm. William Gorntey, head of US Northern Command, told reporters in the Pentagon that he believed North Korea now has the ability to put nuclear warheads on the KN-08. (Scaparrotti’s prepared statement) (Locklear’s written testimony)