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(LEAD) U.S. strongly condemns N. Korea's missile barrage

All Headlines 01:18 September 06, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with Strategic Command statement in last 3 paras)
By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Monday strongly condemned a barrage of missile launches from North Korea as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The North fired three Rodong medium-range missiles off its east coast earlier Monday. The missiles flew about 1,000 km and landed in waters some 400 km inside Japan's air defense identification zone, according to South Korea's military.

The barrage was the latest in a number of missile launches of all ranges -- short, medium, intermediate and submarine missiles -- the communist nation has been carrying out since its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch the following month.

"We strongly condemn this and North Korea's other recent missile tests, which violate multiple U.N. Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea's launches using ballistic missile technology," Justin Higgins, a State Department spokesman, told Yonhap News Agency.

"These provocations only serve to increase the international community's resolve to counter the DPRK's prohibited activities, including through implementing existing UN Security Council sanctions," he said. "We intend to raise our concerns at the UN to bolster international resolve in holding the DPRK accountable for these provocative actions."

The U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan remains "ironclad," the official said, adding that the U.S. is prepared to work with allies and partners around the world to respond to further North Korean provocations and to defend itself and its allies from any attack or provocation.

"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and to focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations and commitments," he said.

The U.S. Strategic Command confirmed the North's missile launches, but said two of the three missiles are "presumed to be intermediate range ballistic missiles" and the type of the other missile was still being assessed.

The commmand did not further specify whether the intermediate-range missiles were Rodong as assessed by South Korea's military, or the longer-range Musudan missile, which is believed to be cabale of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam.

"U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) systems detected and tracked what we assess were three North Korean missile launches at 10:13 p.m. CDT, September 4, 2016, near the western city of Hwangju," the command said in a statement. "The missiles were tracked over North Korea and into the Sea of Japan."

(LEAD) U.S. strongly condemns N. Korea's missile barrage - 1

jschang@yna.co.kr
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