By Jonathan Davis
The No. 2 official at the Pentagon made a startling statement on Saturday regarding the pace at which North Korea is apparently manufacturing ballistic missiles.
Air Force Gen. John Hyten told reporters at the Pentagon that Pyongyang is “building new missiles, new capabilities, new weapons as fast as anybody on the planet.”
Hyten made his comments as denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled, CNN reported.
“If you want to go fast in the missile business you need to test fast, fly fast and learn fast. Look at Space X in this country. There were some pretty spectacular failures. Did they stop? No,” Hyten said as he spoke at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.
“That is what North Korea has been doing and North Korea has been building new missiles, new capabilities, new weapons as fast as anybody on the planet with the 115th most powerful economy in the world. Speed itself is efficiency,” he added.
Meanwhile, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Axios over the weekend that the Trump administration has reached out to the North Korean government in an attempt to restart talks.
“We’ve reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October,” O’Brien told the news outlet.
He added, “We’ve been letting them know, through various channels, that we would like to get those (negotiations) back on track and to implement Chairman Kim’s commitment” to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said earlier this month there “will never” be denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula if the US “persists in its hostile policy towards” the hermit nation, according to the country’s state news agency.
At a meeting of ruling party officials, Kim also said his country’s long term security will be guaranteed by staying on constant alert and relying on “the powerful nuclear deterrent capable of containing the nuclear threats from the US,” according to the Korean Central News Agency.
It’s unclear when — or if — new denuclearization talks will resume, but clearly it’s on the president’s foreign policy radar.
But just as clearly, the North Koreans are taking what they feel is the prudent step of continuing to build up their offensive capabilities.