U.S. intensifying 'every leg of nuclear triad' to ensure deterrence: Gen. Cotton
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, March 9 (Yonhap) -- The United States is enhancing every component of its nuclear capabilities to deter any potential aggression from North Korea, Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, said Thursday.
The Air Force general noted the threat posed by North Korea continues to grow but so does U.S. deterrent capabilities.
"North Korea continues to be a rogue actor and poses a threat to the United States and our allies," Gen. Cotton said in a hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
"North Korea conducted an unprecedented number of missile launches in 2022 and its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), referred to as KN-28, highlight that the security challenge continues to grow," he added.
North Korea fired 69 ballistic missiles last year, nearly three-times more than its previous annual record of 25. The country has also conducted nine ICBM tests in less than a year with its latest ICBM launch taking place last month.
Cotton emphasized the importance of effective extended deterrence, as well as strong alliances, to meet threats and challenges posed by North Korea.
"We are meeting today's challenges with integrated deterrence," he said. "Our unmatched network of allies is a key component of integrated deterrence and these relationships are underpinned by our extended deterrence commitments."
"These commitments are enabled by a safe, secure, effective and credible nuclear deterrent. The credibility of our extended deterrence commitments is not only part of the nation's iron-clad commitment to our allies, but it's also essential in limiting proliferation," added Cotton.
Extended deterrence refers to U.S. commitment to defend its allies, using all its military capabilities, including nuclear weapons when necessary.
Cotton said the U.S. is developing or recapitalizing "every leg of the nuclear triad" to further enhance its extended deterrence.
"The nation's nuclear forces underpin integrated deterrence and enables the U.S., our allies and our partners to confront aggressive and coercive behavior," Cotton told the hearing.
"To ensure our continued ability to serve as the bedrock of integrated deterrence, we are recapitalizing every leg of the nuclear triad, and the nuclear command control and communication systems," he added.
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