Sullivan Raises Alarm over “Major Advancements” in North Korean Missile Technology

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, yesterday discussed the rapidly expanding nuclear and missile threats from North Korea with General John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command. Confirmed by U.S. officials, North Korea last night conducted a missile test speculated to be a KN-15 medium-range missile which uses solid-fueled propulsion.

Senator Sullivan pressed General Hyten on “when, not if” North Korea becomes capable of ranging U.S. shores with a nuclear-tipped Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).


“The day it becomes public that they can do that…it will be on the front page of all the newspapers and magazines…. there will be a lot of demands to do something immediately,” Senator Sullivan said.


Senator Sullivan then questioned General Hyten about a major advancement by North Korea during a “solid-fueled” rocket test on February 11. In response, General Hyten said:


“February 11 was a very important date…the North Koreans launched a new, solid, medium range ballistic missile, of a new transport-erector launcher…out of a place we’ve never seen before. That showed a new technology, a new North Korean capability… a solid rocket can be rolled out and launched at a moment’s notice.”


Lastly, Senator Sullivan pushed for increased missile defense testing and a change in culture in the testing community.


General Hyten evoked Wernher Von Braun, a pioneer of rocket science. “He had a 60 percent fail rate,” General Hyten said of Wernher Von Braun. “Can you imagine if we had a 60 percent failure rate, what the newspapers would say?”


General Hyten said that following a test, the real questions should be, “was that a successful test, did we learn what we needed to do to advance the system, are we advancing fast enough, because North Korea is going fast.” 


After the hearing, Senator Sullivan concluded: 


“General Hyten confirmed it’s not a matter of if, but when North Korea will hold Alaska and the Lower 48 states at risk of a nuclear weapon. North Korea is aggressively testing both their nuclear and missile programs and we need to be testing just as aggressively, if not more so, with our missile defense systems. The future security of the American people depends upon it.”