North Korea Investing in Missile Capabilities, Training

The commander of US Forces Korea said the communist regime of Kim Jong Un is focusing on building up “asymmetric capabilities” in its armed forces, including one of the world’s largest special operations forces and improving the capability, mobility, and effectiveness of its ballistic missiles. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said there have been 10 missile launches or events detected in the North since he took command of USFK in August 2013. Many of these tests are of close-range and near-range missiles. While some of these launches are done for testing and development purposes, Scaparrotti noted that more are done for messaging purposes for the South and its allies to show North Korea’s capability with mobile launch systems. “One of the things we’ve seen this year is more realistic training of rocket forces, and it has resulted in more of these launches,” he added. Asked about the development of a road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile and the advancement of the North’s nuclear program, Scaparrotti said he believed this missile is a capable launcher and vehicle but he did not know if the capability was mature yet, due to lack of testing. He added the US does not believe the North has tested any miniaturized nuclear warhead device. (See also South Korea to Launch Air, Missile Defense System.)