“While the political space is clearly very charged right now, we haven’t seen a change in the posture of North Korean forces and we watch that very closely,” marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate armed services committee hearing for his reappointment on Tuesday.
“What we haven’t seen is military activity that would be reflective of the charged political environment.”
Dunford’s comments come after reports from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency Tuesday that North Korea appeared to have boosted defences on its east coast. This news came a day after North Korea said U.S. President Donald Trump had declared war and that it would shoot down U.S. bombers flying near the peninsula.
Yonhap suggested the reclusive North was in fact bolstering its defences by moving aircraft to its east coast and taking other measures after U.S. bombers flew close to the Korean Peninsula on the weekend.
The unverified Yonhap report said the United States appeared to have disclosed the flight route of the bombers intentionally because North Korea seemed to be unaware. South Korea’s national intelligence service was unable to confirm the report immediately.
Dunford also said, “It would be an incredibly provocative thing for them to conduct a nuclear test in the Pacific as they have suggested, and I think the North Korean people would have to realize how serious that would be, not only for the United States but for the international community.”
Threats and insults
Tensions have escalated since North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, but the rhetoric has reached a new level in recent days with leaders on both sides exchanging threats and insults.