The nominee to be the next chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday North Korea's ballistic missile capability makes the communist nation one of the greatest threats to the United States.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford made the remark during his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, putting Pyongyang into the category of the four biggest threats to the U.S., along with Russia, China and the militant group Islamic State.
"Clearly, North Korea with ballistic missile capability and the potential to reach the United States and attack the homeland is high on the list" of threats to the U.S., he said.
Dunford singled out Russia as the No. 1 threat to U.S. national security.
"In Russia, we have a nuclear power. We have one that not only has capability to violate sovereignty of our allies and to do things that are inconsistent with our national interests but they're in the process of doing so," he said.
Dunford said he considers China the No. 2 threat because of the country's growing military capability and its presence in the Pacific. That does not mean, however, that the U.S. views China as an enemy, the general said.
"I just want to make it clear, as I go down the list and prioritize, you know, I don't view that meaning that we can attack those issues in sequence or that a prioritization of one at the expense of the other is necessarily something that we'd have to do at this particular time," he said.
"All four of those security issues are ones that require the department to look at. They create a challenge that needs to be addressed," he added.
Dunford was named in March to succeed Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as JCS chairman.
If confirmed, Dunford would be the second Marine to serve as JCS chairman after Gen. Peter Pace served in the post jn 2005-2007. (Yonhap)