United States commander: Anti-missile system in South Korea operational in 'coming days'

"With regard to the Carl Vinson, that's my fault on the confusion and I'll take the hit for it", Harris told the House Armed Services Committee.

He said any North Korean missile fired at US forces would be destroyed.

"Denuclearization is unlikely at this point - at least in the near term and at least under this regime", Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. "Restricting ourselves with funding uncertainties reduces war-fighting readiness, so I urge Congress to repeal sequestration and approve the proposed Defense Department budget".

The two earlier launches were conducted from an eastern coastal area, but the missile Saturday was sacked in the west, from an area near Pukchang, just north of the capital, Pyongyang.

The U.S. also could resume aid to North Korea once it "begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile technology programs", he said.

"With every test, Kim Jong-Un moves closer to his stated goal of a preemptive nuclear strike capability against American cities", he said.

The Pacific commander said that he was taking Kim Jong Un at his word that the North Korean leader is determined to develop a long-range nuclear missile that could strike the U.S. and that should "provide us all a sense of urgency" to ensure USA forces in the Pacific are prepared. The North fired the same type of missile April 16, just a day after a massive military parade where it showed off its expanding missile arsenal, but USA officials called that launch a failure.

Earlier Wednesday, AP reported that Japanese aircraft were integrated with ongoing training by the Vinson's air wing, adding that the exercise included air training and information sharing to improve joint operation and communication between USA and Japanese militaries.

"I believe that article and articles like that are both misleading, and they conflate apples and oranges, if you will", Harris said.

However, he said that the most urgent threat at the moment is North Korea.

Signalling that military action remains possible, Ms Thornton told an event hosted by the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, a right-leaning Washington think tank, that the administration treats North Korea as its primary security challenge and is serious when it says "all options are on the table".

Harry Harris said Thursday that it is only a matter of time until North Korean leader Kim Jong-un perfects his intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities. "It's the worst I've seen".

The South Korean navy said the drill is aimed at "deterring North Korea's provocations and displaying the firm alliance between the United States and South Korea".

Despite the friction with China over THAAD, Harris has been "encouraged" by China's recent contacts with North Korea to try to influence its behavior.

Tillerson said the North must take "concrete steps" to reduce its weapons threat before talks could occur.

  • Leroy Wright