Update on North Korea’s ability to hit the U.S. with missiles

July 4 marked the date North Korea was able to launch its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Outside experts said the missile’s long range put Alaska within its reach, but it’s not likely that their aim or nuclear capabilities are good enough to actually stage an attack…, at least not yet.

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated the following:

“I do agree, in principle, with the assessment that the North Koreans are moving quickly to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capability. I, however, am not saying that the test on the Fourth of July demonstrates that they have the capacity to strike the United States with any degree of accuracy or reasonable confidence of success. What the experts tell me is that North Koreans have yet to demonstrate the capacity to do the guidance and control that would be required.”

Selva was testifying at his confirmation hearing to be reappointed to the role for another two-year term.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) pressed him on the issue of range, to which Selva stated, “Yes, sir, on range, they clearly have the capability.”

In reference to Selva’s statement that North Korea doesn’t yet have guidance and control technology for the ICBM, Inhofe said they are “not too far behind” and Selva agreed.

“Yes, sir, we’ll have to watch very carefully, with the [intelligence community], the developments on those particular capabilities,” he said.

Selva further stated, “I’m reasonably confident in the ability of our intelligence community to monitor the testing, but not the deployment of these missile systems. Kim Jong Un and his forces are very good at camouflage and concealment and deception. We have a series of programs that I’d be happy to talk about in a classified setting that talk to the ability of our intelligence community, both military and civilian, to monitor those activities.”

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