Former defense secretary Leon Panetta said the United States should be “very concerned” about North Korean provocation on CNBC Monday, even if the country’s aggressive moves like testing nuclear weapons and ICBMs were aimed at improving Kim Jong-un’s credibility as a new leader.
“Because they have capabilities and they’re developing those capabilities, I don’t think we can take anything for granted,” Panetta said. “The United States, South Korea, and our other partners in that region have to be very prepared in the event that something could happen here. I think the greater likelihood is miscalculation, that they do something that escalates quickly. That’s the greater danger.”
Panetta’s interview came in the wake of news that U.S. warships were moving closer to the North Korean coastline. Earlier, China placed military forces on heightened alert in the northeast region of the country following reported threats by Pyongyang to conduct missile attacks against the U.S. and South Korea.