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U.S. commander: North Korea posing 'persistent challenges' with weapons

U.S. commander: North Korea posing 'persistent challenges' with weapons
U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams addressed North Korean military capabilities during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

March 11 (UPI) -- The United States' top military commander on the Korean Peninsula said there is no evidence North Korea has stopped nuclear weapons development, less than a month after Seoul confirmed Pyongyang has increased investments in missile research and development facilities.

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams said in written testimony presented to the House Armed Services Committee the North's advances in weapons systems include progress in nuclear weapons and advanced missile systems, cyber capabilities, and emerging asymmetric military technologies, Yonhap reported.

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According to Abrams, the U.S. military faces an increasingly dynamic security environment and highlighted the importance of the U.S.-South Korea alliance, the report said.

The senior U.S. military official also said easing of tensions in 2018, including trust-building measures at the Korean demilitarized zone, played a role in the reduction of North Korean provocations, but the North Korean threat persists to the present.

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U.S. troops remain prepared to "fight tonight," Abrams added.

"We have not become complacent when it comes to North Korea," he said. "We remain clear-eyed about the persistent challenges we face today and in the future.

"We will continue to ensure a strong and effective deterrence posture so the North Koreans never misjudge our role, never misjudge our commitment and our capability to respond as an alliance."

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Abrams, who assumed command of USFK in 2018, also raised skepticism about the North's "world's most powerful weapon," according to Stars and Stripes.

"Projecting a capability in a parade, while an effective communication strategy, does not necessarily equal the ability to deliver it," Abrams said.

"In fact, there has been no reporting to indicate that North Korea has exhibited a platform capable of delivering the weapons we were shown."

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Abrams is highlighting the U.S. alliance with Seoul after the conclusion of burden-sharing talks between the two sides, after a prolonged negotiation that began more than a year ago.

Seoul is to pay about $1.03 billion this year for 28,500 troops on the peninsula, according to Yonhap.

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