The US military has denounced North Korea’s ballistic missile as a “provocation” and vowed to defend Washington and its allies against any attack from the East Asian country.
North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile at 2029 GMT Tuesday (4:59 am Wednesday local time), just two days after threatening a nuclear attack in retaliation for large-scale US and South Korean joint military exercises.
US Strategic Command said on Tuesday night the launch of a missile off the coast of Sinpo, North Korea, “did not pose a threat to North America,” citing comments from the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
“Our commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, is ironclad,” said Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman. “We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”
“We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations,” he continued.
The United States called on North Korea to halt its ballistic missile tests, saying that such moves have only made the international community more determined to press forward with UN sanctions.
In January, North Korea said it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb, its fourth nuclear test, and vowed to build up its nuclear program as deterrence against potential aggression from the US and its regional allies.
The North was recently placed under the toughest UN sanctions in two decades. The country, however, has pledged not to relinquish its nuclear power unless the US ends its hostile policy and dissolves the US-led military command in South Korea.
“We intend to raise our concerns at the UN to bolster international resolve in holding the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] accountable for these actions,” Ross said.
In February, Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket which it said placed an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, Washington and Seoul denounced it as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
In March, the US sent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to South Korea’s largest port city to take part in joint wargames, dubbed “Key Resolve.”