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N. Korean nukes highlight importance of strategic deterrence: US commander

(US Strategic Command)
(US Strategic Command)
WASHINGTON -- The United States must reinvigorate its discussion on strategic deterrence against continued and growing threats from other countries, including North Korea, the chief of the US Strategic Command said Wednesday.

"Given Russia and China's expanding capabilities and increasingly aggressive behavior and those posed by nuclear North Korea and possibly Iran, we must reinvigorate the national conversation on the importance of strategic deterrence," said Adm.

Charles Richard, commander of the US Strategic Command, based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

His remark came one day after the US defense chief, Secretary Mark Esper, called North Korea one of "rogue states," along with Iran, that pose ongoing threats to the United States.

Richard insisted nuclear-armed North Korea, along with China, Russia and Iran, not only endanger the US and its allies but also pull US resources away from other important issues.

"I have no choice but to view China as a threat," he said, partly citing China's growing nuclear stockpile.

"Then consider Iran's efforts towards regional destabilization, continued support of violent extremism and North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology. These actions not only endanger our forces and our allies and partners, but also divert our attention and resources away from other efforts that should not be neglected," he told a webinar hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies.

North Korea has maintained a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests since late 2017.

However, its leader, Kim Jong-un, has said he no longer feels bound by the self-imposed restrictions.

Pyongyang unveiled a new, longer-range intercontinental ballistic missile in a recently staged military parade that many US and South Korean experts believe may carry multiple warheads to most parts of the US mainland.

Richard said he keeps pictures of Kim and others such as Xi Jinping of China, Vladimir Putin of Russia and Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a constant reminder of threats they pose to the United States.

"You will notice that I keep pictures of Xi, Putin, Ayatollah and Kim on my wall under the words, 'Not Today.' They're a constant reminder that we must remain inspection-ready and keep us intently focused on the threats we face," he said. (Yonhap)