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(LEAD) N. Korea continues to develop military capabilities that pose threat to U.S. and allies: Kirby

All News 04:48 December 17, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from a state department spokesman in last 4 paras; ADDS photos)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea continues to develop military capabilities that pose serious threats to the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asian region, a White House official said Friday.

John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, made the remark after North Korea said its leader Kim Jong-un inspected the successful static firing test of a "high-thrust solid-fuel motor" for missiles.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) looks at a "high-thrust solid-fuel motor" during its ground test at Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Cholsan, North Pyongan Province, North Korea, on Dec. 15, 2022, in this photo released by the North's Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (R) looks at a "high-thrust solid-fuel motor" during its ground test at Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in Cholsan, North Pyongan Province, North Korea, on Dec. 15, 2022, in this photo released by the North's Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

"Again, Mr. Kim continues to pursue military capabilities that pose a threat to the region, to the peninsula, to our allies and partners, to our national security interests," Kirby said when asked about the North's weapons development efforts.

"And that's why we are going to continue to work with Japan and South Korea. (That) is why we are continuing our force presence and our exercises and training on the peninsula and in the region. And it's why we have worked to improve our own intelligence collection capabilities in and around the Korean Peninsula," he added, speaking in a virtual press briefing.

The North Korean report of its latest weapons development test comes after Pyongyang fired 63 ballistic missiles this year, setting a new record that far exceeds its previous annual record of 25.

Kirby reiterated U.S. commitment to engaging with North Korea.

"We again restate our offer to sit down, without preconditions, with Mr. Kim," he said, referring to the North Korean leader.

"We urge him to accept that offer, again without preconditions, so that we can try to find a diplomatic path forward to the denuclearization of the peninsula," he added.

Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, is seen speaking during a daily press briefing at the state department in Washington on Dec. 16, 2022 in this captured image. (Yonhap)

Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, is seen speaking during a daily press briefing at the state department in Washington on Dec. 16, 2022 in this captured image. (Yonhap)

The state department declined to comment directly on the North's latest weapons test, but highlighted the need to hold North Korea accountable for its unprecedented number of missile tests this year.

"We have been very clear over the course of this administration that have condemned numerous provocations by the DPRK, including various ballistic missile launches, including ICBM missile tests," Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the state department, said in a daily press briefing.

"And we continue to call on the international community to aid in holding the DPRK accountable," he added.

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

bdk@yna.co.kr
(END)

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