Armed Services chair says North Korea sending message to China with missile launch

Armed Services chair says North Korea sending message to China with missile launch
© Greg Nash

North Korea is sending a “message to China,” as well as the U.S. and Japan, with its latest round of failed missile launches, the top House Republican on military issues said Sunday.

“The message was, ‘We are strong, and we can hurt you.’ That’s what the message was from North Korea, that’s what they are trying to send, especially to us, but also Japan and South Korea,” Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told “Fox News Sunday.”

“Maybe they’re trying to send a message to China, as well, that they are not as dependent on China as some of us think,” Thornberry added.

His comments come after North Korea conducted a failed missile launch Sunday.

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Thornberry said it is unclear how close North Korea is to developing a missile that could reach the U.S.

“We know they have nuclear weapons, because they have conducted nuclear tests,” he said. “The question is, ‘How close are they to an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach our homeland?’ The short answer is, ‘We don’t know.’”

“I have no doubt they are driving toward that, and every test, failure or success, helps them,” he added.

To protect against the growing threat from North Korea, Thornberry said, the U.S. must increase its missile defense in the region.

“We can knock down missiles, but we need to step on the accelerator to do more for missile defense,” he said.

“This is the time to step on the gas, because it’s not just North Korea,” he added. “It’s also the Iranians, as well as others, who are pushing for missiles. We need to be able to knock those down.”