WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a frightening disclosure, a senior military official warned the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that an attack upon the U.S. by North Korea could happen at any time.
“The crisis on the Korean peninsula is real—the worst I’ve seen,” Commander of U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. told lawmakers. “There is some doubt within the intelligence community whether Kim Jong Un has that capability today or whether he will soon, but I have to assume he has it, the capability is real, and that he’s moving towards it.”
The warning comes just one day after all members of the U.S. Senate were summoned to the White House for an emergency briefing on the escalating tensions.
“Kim Jong Un is making progress and all nations need to take this seriously because their missiles point in all directions,” Harris said. “If left unchecked, they will match the capability of his hostile rhetoric.”
Harris pointed out the significance of what he referred to as a “shift” in Kim Jong Un’s rhetoric, noting the direct threats the North Korean leader made toward Australia and the U.S. over the course of the last week.
“His rhetoric is going in one direction and his capabilities are approaching the lines of his rhetoric,” Harris said. “Where those lines cross, I believe we are at an inflection point and we wake up to a new world.”
Although Harris said he is extremely concerned that a strike against the U.S. could happen at any time, the Navy commander voiced confidence in the strength of President Trump’s resolve to stop the North Korean dictator.
“We want to bring Kim Jong Un to his senses — not to his knees,” Harris said. “I have the forces in place to fight tonight if necessary.”
The commander also praised President Trump for his recent recruitment of China to work as a go between when it comes moderating the tensions between the United States and North Korea.
“We are seeing more activity—positive activity of China in this case, as we have seen in a long time,” Harris said adding that he that he remains “cautiously optimistic, but hopeful”, but warned that it remains too soon to tell what, if any, impact Chinese president Xi Jinping’s lectures to North Korea will have.
Harris told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that an anti-ballistic missile system (THAAD) that is currently in the process of being installed in South Korea would be operational in “a couple of days.”
“THAAD allows us intercept capability to shoot down, at the high altitude level, ballistic missiles that go from North Korea to South Korea,” Harris explained. “THAAD is a system that would give an umbrella to protect South Korea.”
As for weaponry in place to protect the U.S. should North Korea launch a nuclear strike, The U.S. has strategic defense assets in place, but according to the most recent tests, these defense systems are only successful 51% of the time.
“People think missile defenses are a magic wand. They aren’t,” Jeffrey Lewis, a renowned arms expert, told The Daily Caller this month (http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/14/what-would-happen-if-kim-jong-un-launched-a-nuclear-strike/).
Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
told the Council on Foreign Relations in 2016 (http://www.cfr.org/north-korea/report-launch-cfr-sponsored-independent-task-force-us-policy-toward-north-korea/p38266) that if a nuclear strike by North Korea upon the U.S. seemed imminent, America’s best bet would be a preemptive strike to take out North Korea’s launch pad.