US says taking ‘necessary precautions’ on N. Korea
WASHINGTON–The United States is taking “all the necessary precautions” in the face of escalating threats from North Korea, the White House said Thursday.
Asked about the North’s apparent move to place a medium-range missile on its east coast, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama’s administration was aware of the reports but declined to comment specifically.
Seoul’s defense minister Kim Kwan-Jin said earlier that the missile could reach a “considerable distance” but not the US mainland, telling lawmakers it “could be aimed at test-firing or military drills”.
“What we’re seeing now is a familiar pattern of behavior out of North Korea — regrettable but familiar,” Carney said aboard Air Force One as Obama returned to Washington from a fundraising trip to California.
North Korea, incensed at fresh UN sanctions and US-South Korea military drills, has issued a series of apocalyptic threats of nuclear war in recent weeks.
Pyongyang’s armed forces said earlier they had received final approval for military action against the United States, possibly involving atomic weapons.
But while the barrage of threats from the communist North was familiar, Carney said it was nevertheless “obviously a concern,” adding: “We’re taking all the necessary precautions.”
“We’re monitoring both the actions taken by and the statements made by the North Korean leadership. And we’re also taking prudent measures to respond to that activity and to those statements,” the spokesman said.
He said such “action and provocative rhetoric only serve to further isolate North Korea, to harm the North Korean economy, to set back any efforts the North Koreans might want to take towards rejoining the community of nations.”
Carney reiterated, however, that Pyongyang “has a path available to it if it seeks to improve its economy and work towards abiding to its international obligations.”
“Threats and provocative actions will not bring the DPRK the security, international respect and economic development that it seeks,” said Carney.
“We continue to urge the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations.”
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