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North Korea Continues to Make Progress on Missile Program - US Intelligence

05 March 2018

"If the United States finally holds joint military exercises while keeping sanctions on the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea], the DPRK will counter the USA by its own mode of counteraction and the U.S. will be made to own all responsibilities for the ensuing consequences", North Korea's official KCNA news agency said in a commentary on Saturday.

The State Department's notification comes less than 24 hours after North Korea denied the findings from a soon to be released UN Panel of Experts (PoE) report which found the DPRK sent shipments to Syria's chemical weapons agency. Multiple officials cautioned that a diplomatic solution now remains the administration's focus - and that there are ways to block North Korea's missile program short of all-out war. "The US should clearly understand this and exercise prudence".

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman was quoted by state media KCNA news agency as saying "We will neither beg for dialogue nor evade the military option claimed by the USA".

A North Korean official on Sunday threatened the USA yet again if it takes part in the joint military exercises with South Korea in the coming months.

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On Saturday, the spokesperson for North Korea's foreign ministry said the North would not accept preconditions for talks.

"If Washington continues to hang onto its sanctions and pushes ahead with the joint military drills, we will take our own method of response to rein in the USA, which will take full responsibility for all ramifications", it said.

The United States submitted the request a week ago, a move it says is "aimed at shutting down North Korea's illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal".

"[US President Donald] Trump and [South Korea President Moon Jae-in] noted their firm position that any dialogue with North Korea must be conducted with the explicit and unwavering goal of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation", reads a White House readout of the two leaders' phone call from earlier this week.

N.Korea resists USA pressure
Tillerson's direction for the State Department has concerned foreign policy experts and officials who have voiced their worries. He has warned that if the latest sanctions do not work, "we'll have to go to phase two".

But the sanctions are likely symbolic as the US has already imposed much stricter measures on North Korea via a succession of Presidential Executive Orders and Department of Treasury designations.

At the time, Trump also warned of a "phase two" that could be "very, very unfortunate for the world" if the steps did not work.

Japan is keeping a watchful eye on the recent shift in the North's diplomatic policy and will continue pressuring North Korea until it is prepared to "seek dialogue" and give up its nuclear and missile development programs, the official said.

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North Korea Continues to Make Progress on Missile Program - US Intelligence