Just days after President Trump tried to override his own Treasury Department by unilaterally cancelling sanctions on two Chinese shipping companies accused if illegally trading with North Korea, America's top military commander on the peninsula appeared before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, where he affirmed that the North's continuing development of its missile and nuclear programs was "inconsistent" with its pledge to denuclearize.
Though Trump was eventually convinced to allow those sanctions to stand, and the administration explained away one of his latest attempts to effect "policy by tweet", questions linger about the state of US-North Korea relations following the release of commercial satellite images showing activity at a site used to launch missiles. North Korea claimed this was related to its space program. But later, South Korea intelligence warned that it had detected hints of activity at a factory that the North had used to produce ICBMs.
Gen. Robert Abrams
With no plans for another summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un after talks in Hanoi collapsed when the North purportedly demanded full sanctions relief in exchange for shuttering its nuclear facility at Yongbin under the supervision of international monitors.
Echoing DNI Dan Coats' warning from February testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, US Army General Robert Abrams claimed that the North Korean missile and nuclear programs had enjoyed "unchecked" growth since Kim ordered a halt to missile tests in 2017.
"Their activity that we have observed is inconsistent with denuclearization," U.S. Army General Robert Abrams said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Abrams did not provide further details.
"North Korea’s conventional and asymmetric military capabilities along with their continued development of advanced conventional munitions and systems all remains unchecked," Abrams said.
Asked to elaborate, Abrams said he would need to wait until a closed door session with the Committee to delve into details.
Meanwhile, In Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un called for a "golden age" in "military construction" during a general meeting with lower-ranking military officials. Kim added that he always longed to see his soldiers, even "while traveling in faraway lands," according to local media reports compiled by UPI.
That certainly sounds ominous.