The senior U.S. Navy officer overseeing military operations in the Pacific region told lawmakers Thursday that the North Korean crisis is the worst he’s seen — testifying that it’s only a matter of time before Kim Jong Un has the capability of launching a nuclear warhead toward the United States.
“The crisis on the Korean peninsula is real—the worst I’ve seen,” said Commander of U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. “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.”
Harris spoke to the Senate Armed Services Committee a day after all 100 U.S. senators were invited to White House grounds for a North Korea briefing.
Harris declined to compare the current situation to that of the Cuban Missile Crisis decades ago, but said he has “no doubt” the country intends to develop nuclear missiles that could be aimed toward South Korea and the U.S.
Harris said he believes “America’s future is linked” to the Pacific, even noting a possible migration of Islamic State militants back to the region as U.S. forces push to regain former ISIS territory in the Middle East.
But Harris said that North Korea remains “the most immediate threat” to U.S. security, as they “vigorously” pursue strikes and launches intended to target Australia, South Korea, and the U.S.
“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.”