Top US general says North Korea military posture unchanged despite rhetoric

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford tells senators that North Korea has not changed the posture of its troops despite flaring political tensions with Washington

North Korea says US 'declared war,' warns it could shoot down US bombers

"We should assume now that they have the capability", although there are still some technical details that the North is working on, he said, adding that Pyongyang has already demonstrated the willingness to use the weapon.

Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee that it was only a matter of "a very short time" before North Korea has a nuclear-capable ICBM.

Despite escalating rhetoric between the US and North Korea, Dunford said that there has been no change in the posture of North Korea's military forces.

When asked to clarify, Dunford said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was meant to address only the nation's nuclear missile program.

Bellicose statements by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in recent weeks have created fears that a miscalculation could lead to action with untold ramifications, particularly since Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3.

This week, Pyongyang said the U.S. has declared war on the North, and that Pyongyang "will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country." .

In his speech to the United Nations last week, Trump called the deal an "embarrassment to the United States", adding "I don't think you have heard the last of it".

The general provided assurances that the military can protect Hawaii and the USA mainland against an intercontinental ballistic missile, which Pyongyang tested twice in July.

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The Pentagon has no communication with the North Korean military, he said, telling lawmakers that USA military leaders must rely on the Chinese to defuse potential escalations.

Although political rhetoric has escalated in recent days and weeks, Dunford said North Korea's military's posture is unchanged, a signal that Pyongyang has not mobilized to conduct any specific operation.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders denied on Monday that the United States had declared war, calling the suggestion "absurd".

The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in a truce and not a peace treaty.

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"It is the U.S. military's judgement that it is a matter of a "very short time" before North Korea is able to attack the US", a report quoted him saying. "What we haven't seen is military activity that would be reflective of the charged political environment". The sanctions hit 26 people living in China, Russia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates who act as representatives of North Korea's banks.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted over the weekend that North Korea's leadership "won't be around much longer".

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