North Korea continues to pose a nuclear threat to the United States and its allies, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea told a congressional panel Wednesday.
Gen. Robert Abrams said Pyongyang's production of nuclear weapons materials and missiles are "inconsistent with" the pledge of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize.
"Despite a reduction in tensions along the demilitarized zone and a cessation of strategic provocations coupled with public statements of intent to denuclearize, little to no verifiable change has occurred to North Korea's military capabilities," Abrams told lawmakers.
"These capabilities continue to hold the United States, South Korea and our regional allies at risk," he said.
Abrams told the House Armed Services Committee he could not comment in open session about commercial satellite photos seeming to show increased North Korean activity at weapons production sites.
But he said, "Their activity we have observed is inconsistent with denuclearization."
Kim told U.S. President Donald Trump last June at a summit in Singapore that he would work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Trump returned to Washington and declared, "Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."
But since then, there has been little progress toward a deal detailing when and how North Korea would destroy its nuclear arsenal. A second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi a month ago ended without a further agreement.
Abrams said he believes it is necessary to maintain a "postured and ready force to deter any possible aggressive actions."
The United States has said it will not accept a gradual denuclearization of North Korea in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.