Amid recently eased tensions between North Korea and South Korea, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh expressed concern Monday about the North's missile capabilities. In a move to bolster ally South Korea, the United States said it would deploy three nuclear-capable B-2 bombers to Guam.
"Certainly they have a missile that can reach Hawaii or U.S. facilities in the Pacific, so that's what we're most worried about," Welsh said Monday about North Korea during media briefing, the Air Force Times reported. "I think it's something we have to pay a lot of attention to and we do every single day."
Welsh said he doesn't track North Korea's missile capabilities on a daily basis, but that it is a major concern of the Pentagon. But Welsh also said his concerns about North Korea had not changed drastically.
"I think there's a lot of worrisome things about Korea, but I don't think any of it's new news," he told reporters.
North Korea and South Korea met Monday to ease growing tensions between the two nations after two South Koreans were injured by a land mine in the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries. The two sides came to a deal, with the South agreeing to halt propaganda broadcasts via loudspeakers after the North expressed regret over the land-mine explosion. Prior to the agreement, North Korea had threatened military action and imposed a deadline for South Korea to stop the broadcasts. While Seoul stopped broadcasting its propaganda Tuesday, troops from both sides remain near the Demilitarized Zone.
The U.S. Air Force will send B-2 bombers to Guam to bolster South Korea, which is part of a normal rotation, according to Welsh. "We are in the process right now of deploying three B-2s on a scheduled rotation to Andersen Air Base in Guam," Welsh said, the Air Force Times reported. "We continue to have airmen stationed on the Korean Peninsula who are there full time who are ready for whatever might happen, and they are ready every day."
Earlier this year, North Korea test fired a medium-range ballistic missile with an about 1,800-mile range, Russia's state-run Sputnik News reported. South Korean media also reported in July that North Korea had set up a launchpad to perhaps fire long-range missiles.