Coons: North Korea developments 'gravely concerning'

S Korea: New signs of N Korea's ICBM test prep
S Korea: New signs of N Korea's ICBM test prep

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S Korea: New signs of N Korea's ICBM test prep 02:13

Story highlights

  • North Korea announced it has successfully conducted its sixth nuclear test
  • Coons warned North Korea could be less than a year away from effectively building a missile that could reach the US

Washington (CNN)Sen. Chris Coons on Tuesday said the latest developments surrounding North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear-armed ICBM are "gravely concerning."

"The idea that this was an effective test, their sixth nuclear test of a thermo-nuclear device that was a hundred times greater than Hiroshima is gravely concerning," the Delaware Democrat said Tuesday night on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "I think their next ICBM test will likely be elevating our level of concern."
On Sunday, North Korea announced it successfully conducted its sixth nuclear test, and readings showed that it was the most powerful weapon North Korea has tested to date.
    "I think we have to presume that North Korea is making greater progress than we previously estimated," Coons said.
    Coons, a member of the foreign relations committee, warned that the rogue nation could be less than a year away from effectively building a missile that could reach the United States. The US does not believe North Korean missiles are able to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere yet, Coons said, adding that this final step could take up to a year.
    In response to Sunday's test, Defense Secretary James Mattis warned against a "massive military response" to any additional threats against the United States or its allies.
    "Our commitment(s) among the allies are ironclad," Mattis said. "Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming."
    Additionally, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Kim Jong Un is "begging for war" while she was speaking at an emergency Security Council meeting on Monday.
    But on CNN, Coons stressed the need for diplomacy.
    "It's my hope, it's my expectation that we will use every possible diplomatic avenue for trying to find a peaceful resolution to this. But, we need to make it clear, all options will stay on the table as long as North Korea threatens the American homeland," Coons said.