The US government will work to improve its nuclear forces, a senior military commander has said, pledging to bolster America’s arsenal on land, in the air, and at sea in response to “rogue” actions by North Korea.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Air Force General Anthony Cotton spoke of the need to strengthen the nation’s nuclear arsenal to meet “challenges” from the likes of Pyongyang and other rival states.
“North Korea conducted an unprecedented number of missile launches in 2022 and its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), referred to as KN-28, highlight that the security challenge continues to grow,” he said. “To ensure our continued ability to serve as the bedrock of integrated deterrence, we are recapitalizing every leg of the nuclear triad, and the nuclear command control and communication systems.”
The ‘triad’ refers to the three primary methods of delivery for US nuclear weapons, including land-based missile silos, long-range strategic bomber aircraft, and nuclear-armed submarines.
Cotton went on to accuse North Korea of acting as a “rogue” nation which “poses a threat to the United States and our allies,” stressing that Washington must continue to improve its “effective and credible nuclear deterrent.”
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have soared over the last year, with the DPRK conducting a record number of weapons tests amid a flurry of joint US-South Korean war games. Military activity has continued into 2023, with Pyongyang firing off missiles as Washington and Seoul press on with multiple rounds of exercises, including a recent drill involving a US nuclear-capable bomber.
North Korea has repeatedly condemned such drills as rehearsals for an invasion and insists it has every right to carry out missile launches and develop its own “deterrent” forces. However, US officials continue to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal, with State Department spokesman Ned Price vowing on Thursday to impose increased “costs” on the DPRK until it “changes its approach” and abandons its weapons. Though Price called for “dialogue and diplomacy” with North Korea, so far President Joe Biden appears to have made no effort to sit down with the country’s leadership or hold a new round of talks to de-escalate the tensions.