U.S. dismisses North Korean threat

Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:58 PM
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PYONGYANG, North Korea, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- North Korea's threats about its missile capability will only undermine its efforts to return to talks with the international community, a U.S. official warned.

Responding to Pyongyang's claims Tuesday the U.S. mainland is now within striking range of its strategic forces, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called them "bragging."

"Well, certainly rather than bragging about its missile capability, they ought to be feeding their own people, would be our first comment," Nuland said during her daily news briefing.

"The DPRK (North Korea) needs to understand that it will achieve nothing by threats or provocations. That's only going to undermine their efforts to get back into conversation with the international community."

The North's Korean Central News Agency, quoting a representative of North Korea's National Defense Commission, said Tuesday Pyongyang's "strategic forces" have placed the U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Guam and "even the U.S. mainland" within its target range.

Nuclear-capable North Korea, which is required under U.N. resolutions to suspend its ballistic missile program activities, issued its statement two days after South Korea said the United States had agreed to allow Seoul to expand the strike range of its missiles under their 1979 agreement. South Korea has said the main objective of the new guidelines is to counter armed provocations from North Korea.

Nuland said the U.S. and South Korean missile guidance agreement are defensive in nature.

"I would note that we haven't changed these ranges or capabilities since 2001, at a time when the North has been very clearly working and boasting about their own capabilities. So these are defensive moves on our part and are responsive in nature," she said.

The six-nation talks with North Korea on its denuclearization remain stalled after the North walked out. Besides the two Koreas, other members in the talks are the United States, Russia, Japan and China.

Nuland said North Korean knows what its needs to do if its wants to resume conversation with the United States.

"And again, this is boasting about something rather than taking care of the needs of their own people," she added.

Western intelligence officials have said they believe North Korea has a stockpile of at least 1,000 cruise and ballistic missiles, some with long-range capabilities.

China's Xinhua News Agency said the North's arsenal includes intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 1,900 miles that are capable of striking the entire Korean Peninsula as well as U.S. military installations in Japan and Guam.

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