The top U.S. commander in the Pacific told Congress on Wednesday that the United States needs to strengthen its missile defenses, particularly in Hawaii, given the recent advancing threats from North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs.
Admiral Harry Harris testified that he believed Pyongyang's threats against the United States needed to be taken seriously, according to Reuters.
Admiral Harry testified to this hours before the entire U.S. Senate was due to receive a top-level briefing on North Korea at the White House.
Harris said the defenses of Hawaii were sufficient for now but could one day be overwhelmed. He said that we should station new radar there as well as interceptors to knock out any incoming North Korean missiles.
"I don't share your confidence that North Korea is not going to attack either South Korea, or Japan, or the United States ... once they have the capability," Harris told a lawmaker at one point.
When asked about the defenses of the United States, Harris deferred to other commanders but said: "I do believe that the numbers could be improved. In other words, we need more interceptors."
On Wednesday, Trump invited all 100 members of the Senate to attend a White House briefing with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Harris had confidence and stated that the United States could defeat any North Korean missile attack on an American aircraft carrier strike group, saying threats from North Korea overstated Pyongyang's capabilities.
"The weapons that North Korea would put against the Carl Vinson strike group are easily defended by the capabilities resident in that strike group," Harris said.
"If it flies it will die if it's flying against the Carl Vinson strike group." (Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Clive McKeef and David Gregorio)
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