World

US General Doubts North Korean Nuclear Capabilities

| by Alex Scarr
Vice Chairman Gen. Paul SelvaVice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva

A U.S. military official expressed his doubts about North Korea's nuclear abilities, saying he would be surprised if its missiles could strike the U.S. mainland with "any degree of accuracy."

Gen. Paul Selva, who serves as vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, mentioned that North Korean missile testing systems are still far behind in terms of their accuracy and means to be weaponized, according to Reuters.

While Selva noted the country's missiles do have the range, they are not equipped with the proper missile guidance systems necessary for a successful strike.

"I ... am not sanguine that the test on the Fourth of July demonstrates that they have the capacity to strike the United States with any degree of accuracy or reasonable confidence or success," Selva said in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Selva was referring to a nuclear test earlier in July by North Korea, in which it was able to successfully mount a nuclear warhead on a missile. The country also tested an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.

The North Korean national news reported that the missile had mastered both the launch and atmospheric re-entry, and experts noted that it may be capable of striking the coast of Alaska.

Selva says he strongly doubts a real attack is possible at this point in time.

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"What the experts tell me is that the North Koreans have yet to demonstrate the capacity to do the guidance and control that would be required," Selva said. The general acts as the second-highest ranking member of the U.S. military.

According to The Diplomat, North Korea may have several other ICBMs to test later in 2017. During a celebration concert after its first successful launch, images were shown depicting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un standing in front of several other ICBMs.

After the launch on July 4, military officials drafted a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, urging him to step beyond the typical sanctions and isolation measures and to engage in talks.

"Tightening sanctions can be useful in increasing pressure on North Korea, but sanctions alone will not solve the problem," the letter read, according to NPR. "Pyongyang has shown it can make progress on missile and nuclear technology despite its isolation."

Since the test, South Korea has begun making preparations to ease tensions between the two nations. South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed military talks between the two countries, his administration's first such gesture, reports Reuters. South Korea also has doubts about North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

Sources: Reuters, The Diplomat, NPR / Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr, AP via NPR, STR/AFP/Getty via Fortune

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