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Roundup: DPRK's test-launch of ballistic missiles draws international condemnation

BEIJING, March 6 (PNA/Xinhua) -- Several countries are condemning Monday's test-launch of four ballistic missiles by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), as it was in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions once again.

According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the DPRK fired four ballistic missiles of a new type into east waters at about 7:36 a.m. local time (2236 GMT on Sunday). The missiles flew eastward some 1,000 km on average, and three out of the four fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone.

"China opposes the DPRK's violation of the U.N. Security Council's stipulation," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

In response to the launch, the U.S. State Department said it was "prepared to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against this growing threat."

"The United States strongly condemns (the DPRK's) ballistic missile launches ... which violate U.N. Security Council resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea's (the DPRK's) launches using ballistic missile technology," acting state department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

Under the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, Pyongyang is banned from testing any ballistic missile technology.

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who serves as caretaker president following the impeachment in December of the defamed President Park Geun-hye, denounced the missile launch as a grave provocation and a direct challenge to the international community as it defied repeated warnings from the international community against ballistic missile launches.

Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement that the launch was in blatant and clear violation of the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions while threatening peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the entire international community.

In Japan, Prime Minister Sinzo Abe confirmed the missile launch during an Upper House Committee session on Monday, saying "the launch clearly showed that North Korea (the DPRK) has reached a new dimension of threat and the repeated launches are serious provocation to our security".

Japan has also filed an official protest against the DPRK over the latest missile launch, the Japanese leader said.

While saying there were no immediate reports of damage to ships, vessels, or aircraft flying in the vicinity of the missiles' flight path, Japan's top government spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, told a news conference in Tokyo that the DPRK's launch was a "grave threat to national security", and Japan would be fully on alert for any future contingencies.

Senior security officials of South Korea and the United States also had phone talks over the missile launch.

Kim Kwan-jin, top security advisor to impeached President Park Geun-hye, talked with U.S. national security advisor Herbert McMaster of the White House via phone for 15 minutes from 10:45 a.m. local time (0145 GMT), South Korea's presidential Blue House said in a statement.

During the talks, Kim and McMaster strongly denounced the missile launch, agreeing to strengthen cooperation to put effective sanctions and pressure on the DPRK.

South Korea's chief negotiator to the Six-Party Talks also held emergency phone talks with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts following the DPRK's missile test-launch, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman also criticized the United States and South Korea for their recent military measures against the DPRK, which could have triggered retaliation.

"China has also noted that both are holding large-scale military exercises targeting the DPRK," Geng said, "All sides should exercise restraint and not do anything to irritate each other to worsen regional tensions."

The Foal Eagle field training exercise, which kicked off on Wednesday, is scheduled to last by the end of April, mobilizing U.S. strategic assets such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and stealth fighter jets. Pyongyang has denounced it as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.

About 10,000 U.S. troops, including U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), will be mobilized for the drill together with 290,000 South Korean soldiers.

It would be almost the same as the largest-ever spring war game carried out in 2016.

On Feb. 12, Pyongyang successfully test-launched a new type of Pukguksong-2 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) under supervision by top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.

Expectations had been running high for the DPRK's test-firing of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the near future based on the IRBM technology, but the JCS said the missiles launched Monday were unlikely to be new ICBMs of the DPRK. (PNA/Xinhua)
LOR/SSC

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