By Song Sang-ho
WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) — The United States called on North Korea Friday to refrain from further “provocative” and “destabilizing” actions and come back to dialogue, after Pyongyang conducted another round of cruise missile launches.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that Pyongyang fired the missiles into the Yellow Sea on Friday morning (Korea time). It marked the North’s fourth round of cruise missile launches this year.
“We are monitoring these activities, and call on the DPRK to refrain from further provocative, destabilizing actions and return to diplomacy,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in response to a question from Yonhap News Agency. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We continue to consult closely with the Republic of Korea, Japan, and other allies and partners about how to best engage the DPRK, deter aggression, and coordinate international responses to the DPRK’s ongoing and dangerous provocations,” he added.
Separately, a State Department spokesperson expressed concern over the latest launches.
“We note with concern reports that the DPRK fired several cruise missiles Feb. 2, the fourth reported launch in 10 days,” the spokesperson said. “As we have repeatedly affirmed, the United States harbors no hostile intent towards the DPRK.”
Following the North’s continued cruise missile launches, a military source in Seoul said that the launches appeared intended to enhance its missiles’ accuracy through repeated strike tests.
Some observers called such cruise missile launches a “grey-area” provocation as they are not subject to U.N. Security Council resolutions banning launches using ballistic missile technology.