KEY POINTS

  • A U.S. general warned against a potential attack by North Korea
  • North Korea issued a warning to the US against 'causing a stink'
  • Top U.S. officials are expected to meet South Korean leaders to discuss the growing missile threat

North Korea "could strike" the United States as it plans to launch an improved intercontinental ballistic missile soon, a U.S. general said Tuesday. 

In a meeting with the Senate Armed Services Committee, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck warned that North Korea could go against a promise it made three years ago to abide by a unilateral freeze on ICBM and nuclear weapons tests. 

VanHerck said North Korean "indicated that it is no longer bound by the unilateral nuclear and ICBM testing moratorium announced in 2018, suggesting that Kim Jong Un may begin flight testing an improved ICBM design in the near future.”

At a Pentagon briefing later on Tuesday, the general also noted the North Korean regime’s display of new missiles in a parade in October and warned of a possible attack on the United States.  

“In the public parade we saw on the 10th of October, we saw additional capabilities, an additional missile. Now they’re up to three missiles that we assess could strike our homeland,” VanHerck said. 

The general’s comments came after Kim Yo-jong, sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, issued a warning to the U.S. through its state-run media. 

“We take this opportunity to warn the new U.S. administration trying hard to give off a powder smell in our land. If it wants to sleep in peace for the coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” Yo-jong said.

The warning referred to a planned simulated military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III are flying to South Korea this week to strengthen alliances in the region amid threats from North Korea. 

“As the senior officials meet this week in Seoul to discuss their North Korea policy, the North is warning them to choose wisely between dialogue and confrontation,” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told The New York Times.  

Kim Yo-Jong Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, attends the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round - Group B game between Switzerland and Korea on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, South Korea, Feb. 10, 2018. Photo: Getty Images