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Iran Press TV

North Korea's missile launch a 'reckless' provocation: Mattis

Iran Press TV

Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:22PM

US Defense Secretary James Mattis says North Korea "recklessly" attempted to provoke a response after the country conducted another missile launch over the weekend.

Speaking with reporters on his way to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Mattis said the missile, which the Pentagon said blew up shortly after launch on Saturday, was not an intercontinental ballistic missile, meaning it could not reach US territory.

"The leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile," he said.

The Pentagon chief pledged that the Donald Trump administration would closely work with China, North Korea's main trading partner, to reduce tensions.

"It shows why we are working so closely right now with the Chinese... to try to get this under control and aim for the denuclearized Korean Peninsula," Mattis said.

President Trump suggested Sunday that the softer line he had taken on China's currency policy was linked to its help with the North Korean situation.

China banned imports of North Korean coal earlier this year and Chinese media has raised the possibility of restricting oil shipments to the country if it continued with its provocations.

Pyongyang has threatened the US with an "all-out war" and pledged to continue to test missiles on a regular basis.

"We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis," North Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol said in an interview with the BBC on Monday. "If the US is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method."

Last week, a US aircraft carrier-led strike group set course for the Western Pacific Ocean close to the Korean Peninsula amid growing fears over the North's weapons tests.

During a visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence put North Korea on notice, saying the era of strategic patience was over.

"All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country," he said.

Pence also warned that recent US strikes in Syria and Afghanistan showed that the Trump administration's resolve should not be tested.

North Korea, already under a raft of sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs, says its missile tests are an act of deterrence against a potential invasion by the US or South Korea.

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