By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- The United States will respond quickly to a future nuclear test by North Korea if necessary, a Pentagon spokesperson said Friday.
Sabrina Singh, deputy spokesperson for the defense department, made the remark as she highlighted the possibility of a North Korean nuclear test in the near future.
"We are in very close touch with our allies and partners in the region, and should there be such a test, we would be able to respond quickly if needed," Singh said when asked about the possibility of a North Korean nuclear test.
Seoul and Washington earlier said the North may have completed all preparations for what will be its seventh nuclear test.
"So we remain concerned about the prospects of any nuclear test. We know that the North Koreans have made preparations for such a test," the Pentagon spokesperson said in a daily press briefing.
"And this assessment, you know, remains consistent with what we have said from the beginning, but we certainly would remain concerned and which is why and you heard the secretary and his ROK counterparts speak to this yesterday," she added, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noted in his meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup on Thursday that any nuclear attack by Pyongyang against the U.S. or its allies will result in the "end" of the North Korean regime.
Austin also agreed to employ U.S. strategic assets in and around the Korean Peninsula to a level "equivalent to the constant deployment" of such assets to help deter or counter North Korean provocations.
Singh declined to comment when asked how the U.S. planned to boost the presence of its strategic assets in the region, but highlighted the importance of joint military drills.
"I don't have anything to announce today on any new deployment of strategic assets, but I think Vigilant Storm, the exercise that's ongoing now, speaks for itself," she said, referring to the joint military exercise of South Korea and the U.S.
"These exercises increase confidence in our joint operations, and again this is not the last exercise. We will continue to do exercises with South Korea or Japan when opportunities present itself," she added.
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