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(LEAD) U.S. strongly condemns N.K. missile launches, vows to raise concerns with U.N.

2016/04/29 00:28

(ATTN: UPDATES with Pentagon statement in paras 9-11)

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Yonhap) -- The United States strongly condemned North Korea's latest launches of the intermediate-range ballistic missile Musudan, saying it would raise the issue with the United Nations to hold Pyongyang accountable for the provocation.

The North conducted a launch of the mobile missile early Wednesday, but it exploded shortly after launch. The communist nation fired another Musudan missile later in the day, but the launch is also believed to have ended in failure, according to South Korea.

"We are aware of reports that the DPRK fired ballistic missiles. We are monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional allies and partners," State Department spokesperson Katina Adams told Yonhap News Agency.

"We strongly condemn these and North Korea's other recent missile tests, which violate multiple U.N. Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea from conducting launches using ballistic missile technology," she said.

These provocations only serve to increase the international community's resolve to enforce existing multilateral U.N. Security Council sanctions, Adams said.

"We intend to raise our concerns at the U.N. to ensure that international resolve remains firm in holding the DPRK accountable for these provocative actions," she said.

The U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan remains ironclad, Adams said.

"We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation. We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments," she said.

The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the North's launches.

"U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) systems detected and tracked what we assess were attempted North Korean missile launches at 4:43 p.m. CDT April 27, 2016, and at 5:24 a.m. CDT, April 28, 2016," the Pentagon said in a statement.

"The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missiles launched from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America," it said. "The men and women of USSTRATCOM, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Pacific Command remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and are fully committed to working closely with our Republic of Korea and Japanese allies to maintain security."

   The launches were the latest in a series of provocative acts Pyongyang has undertaken to defy international pressure over its nuclear and missile program and assert the leadership of Kim Jong-un in the lead-up to next week's key meeting of the ruling Workers' Party.