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(2nd LD) N. Korea's missile launch not 'particularly provocative or threatening': U.S. JCS chief

All Headlines 04:30 April 15, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with U.S. general's comments in paras 1-6; CHANGES headline)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, April 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's missile tests overnight were not "particularly provocative or threatening" to the United States, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

Gen. Mark Milley said he was speaking after a preliminary assessment of the tests with the South Korean military and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams.

"It's mixed right now in terms of the assessment," he told reporters at the Pentagon. "I don't think it's particularly provocative or threatening to us as to what happened."

South Korea's military said earlier that North Korea fired what appeared to be cruise missiles and air-to-ground missiles into the East Sea.

The launch came on the eve of the late North Korean founder's birthday and South Korea's general elections.

"It may be tied to some celebrations that are happening inside North Korea, as opposed to any deliberate provocation against us," Milley continued. "So, another day or two, it should be clearer in terms of what we pick up in the intel chain."

The communist nation has often held massive parades and other military events to celebrate the birthday of Kim Il-sung, grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

The country has also conducted multiple weapons tests in recent weeks, apparently to boost its defense capabilities amid stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. and maintain military discipline in the fight against COVID-19.

The State Department said it is aware of media reports of the launch and is currently assessing the situation.

"We continue to call on North Korea to avoid provocations, abide by obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and return to sustained and substantive negotiations to do its part to achieve complete denuclearization," a department spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency.

A senior U.S. government official added that the United States was aware of reports of "projectiles" launched from North Korea.

"We continue to monitor the situation and are consulting with our allies," the official told Yonhap.

These photos published by North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper on June 9, 2017, show the country's launch of a new surface-to-ship cruise missile. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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