By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) — Sen. James Risch (R-ID) has called on the U.S. government to enhance and improve its nuclear capabilities to provide added deterrence in support of U.S. allies against threats posed by North Korea.
The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also highlighted the need for joint military readiness to deter any North Korean aggression.
“Our priority needs to be on U.S. and allied cooperation and military readiness through a strong tempo of training and exercises — not on “talks,” which historically have not worked,” the senator said in a statement released Wednesday.
“We must also maintain a strong nuclear deterrent, along with missile defense to protect the United States,” he added.
The statement comes after North Korea staged four missile launches since the start of the year, including the test firing of what Pyongyang claims to be a new hypersonic missile in two of those four launches.
Risch insisted the missile launches were aimed at advancing the North’s missile capabilities. Many North Korea watchers have said the launches may have been at least partly aimed at drawing the U.S.’ attention or U.S. concessions.
“Having already fielded intercontinental ballistic missiles to threaten the United States, North Korea is now refining tactical capabilities to fight and win a war through the use of nuclear weapons,” said Risch.
“These tests represent key milestones in North Korea’s developing ability to coerce U.S. allies, prevent the United States from being able to respond to aggression, and to control escalation during a crisis. This is an incredibly dangerous situation.”
North Korea has refrained from talks with the U.S. since late 2019, while it also remains unresponsive to all U.S. overtures since Joe Biden took office a year ago.
On Thursday (Seoul time), the North said it will examine the issue of restarting “all temporarily-suspended activities,” which were aimed at building trust with the U.S.
Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since November 2017, despite leader Kim Jong-un saying in 2019 that he no longer felt bound by such restrictions.
Risch argued the U.S. must modernize its nuclear capabilities for its own defense, as well as that of U.S. allies, against North Korean aggression.
“It’s imperative we accelerate the modernization of our aging nuclear forces, maintain our own capabilities to provide extended deterrence and control escalation, and resist any moves to make dramatic or risky changes in our nuclear declaratory policy — such as a ‘sole or fundamental purpose’ policy — that would only weaken our alliances,” he said.