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North Korea condemns U.S., South Korea for missile defense drills

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea condemns U.S., South Korea for missile defense drills
Crewmembers onboard the USS John Paul Jones launched an interceptor missile to take down a mid-range ballistic missile, according to the Missile Defense Agency. File Photo courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nardel Gervacio/U.S. Navy

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- North Korea condemned the United States, South Korea and Japan for conducting a missile warning drill in late January.

The statement published in Pyongyang's Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Monday claimed the three countries were preparing to eventually launch a pre-emptive strike, although the drills were conducted for defense purposes.

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But North Korea's nuclear threat is prompting the United States and its allies to conduct further tests.

According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the United States and Japan passed a test on Friday for missile defense when they took down a midrange ballistic missile with the latest interceptor, launched from a guided-missile destroyer near Hawaii.

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"Today's test demonstrates a critical milestone in the cooperative development of the SM-3 Block IIA missile," said Adm. Jim Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency.

U.S. defense contractor Raytheon said in a press statement the crewmembers onboard the USS John Paul Jones launched the missile, "successfully" destroying a land-launched target "resembling an advanced ballistic missile threat."

On Monday, North Korea said its enemies were engaging in "dangerous military acts" and that the United States was openly training to detect and track North Korea rockets, by "intercepting a simulated target."

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"The United States is rationalizing military movements with puerile puns, but that does not work with us," North Korea stated. "The United States, using South Korean puppets in their training of rocket interception, are worsening the state of affairs, and at the next opportunity intends to light a fuse for a North Korea invasion."

The United States and its allies are to continue with drills to deter North Korea threats, but tensions should not rule out negotiations or talks, said former U.S. special envoy for North Korea Joseph DeTrani.

In an interview with South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo, DeTrani said there are certain points of negotiation North Korea is interested in, including the easing of sanctions, suspension of joint military exercises and the signing of a peace treaty with North Korea.

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But suspension of North Korea weapons development would be a prerequisite of such talks, DeTrani said.

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