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(LEAD) Pentagon dismisses speculation over imminent N.K. missile test

All Headlines 02:09 July 27, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with more remarks from Pentagon spokesman, background; ADDS photo, byline)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, July 26 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Wednesday dismissed speculation North Korea is preparing to test another ballistic missile this week following its first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile early this month.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis did not confirm the reports, but emphasized the U.S. is closely watching North Korea's movements with "great numbers of assets" focused on that task.

"We see in North Korea a bona fide research and development program that is not tied to a calendar," he told reporters. "It's aggressively pushing ahead with test launches wherever and whenever it can. That's our concern, not the date on the calendar they pick."

North Korea is widely reported to be preparing another ballistic missile test as early as Thursday, which falls on the anniversary of the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

This photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense shows an aerial view of the Pentagon in Washington. (Yonhap)

Davis said the reclusive regime has not followed the pattern of marking key dates with new missile or nuclear tests in the past year or so.

With each missile test, North Korea has demonstrated advances in its pursuit of a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland U.S. The ICBM launched on July 4 is believed to have the range to strike Alaska and potentially other parts of the country. Pyongyang claims the weapons system will deter what it calls U.S. aggression.

The captain gave assurances that the U.S. is capable of defending itself from this "nascent" North Korean missile system, including through the deployment of interceptors.

"We're in a place where we can say with confidence we're able to defend the American homeland from a potential North Korean ICBM," he said.

The U.S. will also remain committed to the defense of its allies, South Korea and Japan.

"At the end of the day we don't want to just be able to defend against it," he continued. "We want to see it gone. It is destabilizing, a violation of multiple international resolutions, and it does not serve anyone's purpose well at all.

"We will continue to work with our allies and through other parties to be able to bring pressure upon North Korea to end this illicit program."

hague@yna.co.kr
(END)

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