Defense chiefs of S. Korea, U.S. agree on 'firm responses' to N. Korean ICBM test
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, March 24 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook agreed on the need to take "firm" actions against North Korea's latest ballistic missile test, calling it a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, the U.S. Department of Defense said Thursday.
They also strongly condemned the North's latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch in a bilateral phone call.
"The two leaders strongly condemned today's missile launch and shared a common understanding that DPRK's missile launches pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of not only the Korean Peninsula and the Indo-Pacific region, but also to the entire world," the defense department said of the call in a press release. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korea fired an ICBM on Thursday (Seoul time). The missile flew about 1,000 kilometers, but U.S. and South Korean officials said the missile appeared to be a new ICBM capable of reaching the mainland U.S., given the characteristics of the missile launched.
Austin and Suh agreed Thursday's missile launch ended North Korea's self-imposed moratorium on ICBM testing, which the U.S. Department of Defense said "was made as a promise to the international community."
"They also agreed that firm responses, including further actions from the UN Security Council, are necessary," said the press release.
Earlier reports said the U.S. has called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to be held Friday to discuss the North's latest missile launch.
Thursday's missile test marked the 12th known show of force by North Korea since the start of the year, including two missile launches on Feb. 27 and March 5 that the U.S. says had involved a new ICBM system.
"Furthermore, the two leaders pledged to continue close consultations between military authorities of the ROK and the U.S. going forward and agreed on the importance of maintaining a robust U.S.-ROK combined defense posture," the defense department said, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.
"The Secretary and the Minister also agreed to further discuss trilateral security cooperation and continue efforts to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," it added.
The department said Austin also held a phone conversation with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on the day to discuss ways to respond to North Korea's latest missile launch.
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