Top defense and military chiefs in the U.S. testified that Washington will put diplomacy at the forefront when dealing with North Korea despite concerns over the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
In a written testimony to the House Subcommittee on Defense released on Thursday U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that Pyeongyang poses an increasing threat to regional allies and partners and has ambitions to be able to strike the U.S. mainland.
He said that by leading with diplomacy, the U.S. will continue to work to mitigate North Korea's destabilizing and provocative behavior and maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley also stated in his written testimony to the subcommittee that North Korea possesses the technical capacity to present a "real danger" to the U.S. mainland as well as U.S. allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific.
Milley said the North continues to enhance its ballistic missile capability at the expense of its citizens and peace on the Korean peninsula adding that it shows no signs of giving up its efforts to bolster its military capability.
The two chiefs also expressed the threat posed by China.
Austin said China's ambitions are not only aimed at economic supremacy but also aimed at changing the regional order in a way that will hurt democratic values and weaken human rights in the free and open Indo-Pacific.
Milley also said China is the number one security issue and cited a need to maintain a relationship with China of rivalry but not collision.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.