Cheney says North Korean missile capability is "fairly rudimentary"

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday that North Korea's missile capabilities "are fairly rudimentary" and brushed aside a suggestion that the United States launch a pre-emptive strike.

"I think that at this stage we are addressing the issue in a proper fashion. And I think, obviously, if you're going to launch strikes at another nation, you'd better be prepared to not just fire one shot," Cheney said in an interview with CNN.

Cheney had been asked about a Washington Post opinion piece by two former top defense officials urging that the United States be prepared "to strike and destroy" a long-range North Korean missile. The officials, former Defense Secretary William Perry and former Assistant Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, served in the administration of President Bill Clinton.

Cheney said the United States is concerned that North Korea, which is believed to have nuclear weapons, "now has put a missile on a launch pad without telling anybody what it's all about. Is it to put a satellite in orbit or a simple test flight?"

Cheney expressed skepticism about whether the missile could reach U.S. territory.

He said it is "fair to say that the North Korean missile capabilities are fairly rudimentary. I mean, they've been building Scuds and so forth over the years, but their test flights in the past haven't been notably successful. But we are watching it with interest and following it very closely," reports AP.