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(LEAD) White House condemns N. Korea's latest missile test

All News 05:06 June 01, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with White House briefing; CHANGES headline)
By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, May 31 (Yonhap) -- The White House said Tuesday it strongly condemns North Korea's latest test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile, urging the communist regime to refrain from such provocations and focus on meeting its international obligations.

Earlier Tuesday, the North attempted unsuccessfully to launch the Musudan ballistic missile believed to be capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam. Officials in South Korea said the missile is believed to have exploded on a mobile launcher as soon as the fire button was pressed.

"The United States strongly condemns North Korea's missile test in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, which explicitly prohibit North Korea's use of ballistic missile technology," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

"These actions and North Korea's continued pursuit of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities pose a significant threat to the United States, our allies and to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region," he said at a regular briefing.

Earnest also said that the U.S. and the rest of the international community urge the North to "refrain from actions, including this failed missile test, that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments."

"As a result of North Korea's insistence on pursuing this approach, the North Korean government has been increasingly isolated and they're under increasing pressure economically as a result of the coordinated actions of the international community," Earnest said.

"We obviously are hopeful that that pressure will lead to some different strategic decisions being made by the North Korean government, but thus far, it has not," he said.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Strategic Command confirmed the failure of the North's missile test.

"U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) systems detected what we assess was a failed North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile launch at 3:30 p.m. CDT May 30, 2016 from Wonsan" on the east coast, Army Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell, a command spokesman, said.

"The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America," O'Donnell said. "The men and women of USSTRATCOM, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Pacific Command remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security."

The North first test-fired the Musudan missile on April 15 and two more on April 28, but all either exploded in mid-air or crashed seconds after launch. The North has deployed about 50 Musudan missiles with its forces since 2007, but none of them had been test-fired until this year.

jschang@yna.co.kr
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