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US military leader expresses full confidence in ability to defend against new NK missiles

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that he has "100 percent confidence" in the US ability to defend itself from new North Korean missiles.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten made the remark during a seminar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noting that North Korea has made significant strides in its missile development.


"I don't say 100 percent very often. I have 100 percent confidence in those capabilities against North Korea," he said, referring to US missile defense systems.

"That's what they're built for. They're built for North Korea. They're not built for anything else ... and they're going to work against North Korea, God forbid, if we ever have to."

At the same time, Hyten said, North Korea has developed a ballistic missile program that can threaten the US despite being one of the poorest countries in the world.

"You want to know what's different about North Korea? They learned how to go fast," he said, citing the increase in missile tests under current leader Kim Jong-un.

Unlike his grandfather and father, previous leaders of North Korea who according to Hyten conducted nine and 22 tests each, Kim has launched 67 missiles, the vice chairman said.

"If you want to go fast in the missile business, you need to test fast, fly fast, learn fast," he said. "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." Hyten went on to lament the lack of speed in the US.

"Speed itself is efficiency. Speed builds capability and savings into your programs. But you have to be able to accept failure," he said. "And if the dictator of North Korea has learned how to accept failure, why can't the United States learn how to accept failure? We need to understand what failure is and learn from those failures, learn from the mistakes that we make, move quickly from those mistakes."