SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday that North Korea is improving its nuclear missile program even amid reports that the regime’s intercontinental ballistic missile launched this week broke upon re-entry.
Kim Jong Un’s regime tested the Hwasong-15 missile last week and the Pentagon said it travel higher than any previous its ICBMs, putting all of the United States within range. But the missile did not successfully re-enter the atmosphere, a key ability for a functional ICBM, according to multiple news reports Saturday.
“It will take some time to assess each of these missile launches but what is clear is that every time he conducts a missile launch and nuclear test he gets better,” McMaster said at the Reagan National Defense Forum. “Whether it is a success or failure isn’t as important as understanding that over the years he’s been learning from failures, improving and thereby increasing his threat to all of us.”
McMaster did not hesitate to name North Korea when asked about the top threat to the United States.
The risk of war with Kim’s regime is “increasing daily,” he said.
North Korea broke a two-month lull in its missile testing aimed at putting the U.S. homeland within range of a nuclear strike, despite efforts by the Trump administration to ratchet up sanctions and to convince China to intervene.
McMaster said there has been a dramatic change in China’s stance toward North Korea since President Trump took office and that it now recognizes the regime as a global threat.
China provides most of North Korea’s oil imports but it has so far not moved to cut off that supply.