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(2nd LD) U.S. strongly condemns N.K. missile launches, vows to raise concerns with U.N.

All News 04:15 April 29, 2016

(ATTN: CORRECTS time element in 2nd para; UPDATES with new assessment in 9-11)
By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Yonhap) -- The United States strongly condemned North Korea's latest launches of the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, saying it would raise the issue with the United Nations to hold Pyongyang accountable for the provocation.

The North conducted a launch of the mobile missile off its east coast early Thursday, but it crashed shortly after launch. The communist nation fired another Musudan missile later in the afternoon, but it exploded mid-air after flying several kilometers, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We are aware of reports that the DPRK fired ballistic missiles. We are monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional allies and partners," State Department spokesperson Katina Adams told Yonhap News Agency.

"We strongly condemn these and North Korea's other recent missile tests, which violate multiple U.N. Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea from conducting launches using ballistic missile technology," she said.

These provocations only serve to increase the international community's resolve to enforce existing multilateral U.N. Security Council sanctions, Adams said.

"We intend to raise our concerns at the U.N. to ensure that international resolve remains firm in holding the DPRK accountable for these provocative actions," she said.

The U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan remains ironclad, Adams said.

"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 international commitments," she said.

The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the North's launches, saying the U.S. Strategic Command systems detected and tracked the missiles and the North American Aerospace Defense Command determined the missiles did not pose a threat to North America.

"After additional analysis, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) assesses that both launch attempts of presumed Musudan intermediate range ballistic missiles occurred from Wonsan. Initial indications reveal the tests were not successful," the command said in a statement.

It was the North's second and third attempts to test the Musudan after the first attempt earlier this month.

The launches were the latest in a series of provocative acts Pyongyang has undertaken to defy international pressure over its nuclear and missile program and assert the leadership of Kim Jong-un in the lead-up to next week's key meeting of the ruling Workers' Party.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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