May 24, 2017 - 10:34 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - North Korea, if left unchecked, is on an "inevitable" path to obtaining a nuclear-armed missile capable of striking the United States, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart told a Senate hearing on Tuesday, May 23, according to Reuters.
The remarks are the latest indication of mounting U.S. concern about Pyongyang's advancing missile and nuclear weapons programs, which the North says are needed for self-defense.
U.S. lawmakers pressed Stewart and the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to estimate how far away North Korea was from obtaining an intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM) that could reach the United States.
They repeatedly declined to offer an estimate, saying that doing so would reveal U.S. knowledge about North Korea's capabilities, but Stewart warned the panel the risk was growing.
"If left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland," Stewart said.
"While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable."
The U.N. Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss Sunday's test of a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions. The meeting was called at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea.