A senior US military commander has warned that North Korea are now capable of striking Alaska with nuclear missiles and has urged the government to increase military spending in the state.
Speaking before Congress’ Joint Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Lieutenant General Kenneth S. Wilsbach said that military officials fear that Pyongyang could strike America any day now.
“Certainly North Korea and the rhetoric that’s coming from North Korea and the activity that we’re seeing makes me as a military commander have concern that the threat is increased,” he told lawmakers.
The commander reminded the panel that Alaska was given $561 million to complete ongoing military projects across the state during the 2017 fiscal year.
The money was supposed to be used for upgrading a network of missile systems and prepare Eielson Air Force Base to host two squadrons of F-35 stealth fighter jets, totaling 54 aircraft, by 2020.
“Because of the strategic nature of Alaska we assume, which is why we defend this land, that there are facilities here that could be considered targets, so that’s why we have forces that are capable of defending the nation from here,” Wilsbach went on.
Within the US military circles, Alaska is commonly referred to as the last line of defense against a nuclear attack from adversaries such as North Korea.
The statements come amid high tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, which is angered by the annual joint war games currently being carried out by the US and South Korea on the restive peninsula.
The US has further infuriated the North by starting the installation of an advanced missile system at an air base in South Korea earlier this month.
Washington also deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft in the region.
Pyongyang has been subjected to international pressure, including US sanctions and Security Council resolutions, to abandon its arms development and nuclear programs.
Yet, it says the programs are meant to protect the country from US hostility.