(LEAD) U.S. condemns N. Korean missile provocation, urges U.N. members to hold Pyongyang accountable

The United States strongly condemns North Korea's latest missile provocation, a state department spokesperson said Tuesday, while calling on all United Nations member countries to play their role in holding the country accountable.

Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the state department, said the North's latest missile launch on Monday (Korea time) was especially concerning as it simulated the use of a tactical nuclear weapon.

"The United States condemned the DPRK's March 19 ballistic missile launch, which came just three days after the DPRK's most recent ICBM launch," the spokesperson told a daily press briefing, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the state department, is seen speaking during a daily press briefing at the department in Washington on March 21, 2023 in this captured image.

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile this week following its second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch of the year on Thursday (Korea time).

"This launch is in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions, and it's the latest in a series of launchers that pose a threat to the DPRK's neighbors," Patel added.

The department spokesperson said the latest missile launch was "particularly concerning" that the DPRK has characterized it as the "simulated use of a tactical nuclear weapon."

Pyongyang said Monday's missile launch was observed by leader Kim Jong-un, who stressed the need to make an "immediate and overwhelming nuclear counterattack" when necessary.

Patel underscored the need for international action to hold North Korea to account.

"We continue to believe that all members of the (U.N.) Security Council have a role to play in holding the DPRK accountable, especially those that have influence over Pyongyang," he told the press briefing.

His remarks come one day after the Security Council failed to produce any outcome in a meeting held to discuss measures against North Korea due to opposition from China and Russia, both veto power-wielding permanent members of the council and friendly neighbors of North Korea.

"Now's not the time to be using vetoes to cover up DPRK," said Patel.

A Pentagon spokesperson said the U.S. was closely watching North Korea's missile program.

"I think we have been aware for a very long time (of) the challenges associated with North Korea's missile program," Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said when asked in a daily press briefing if the North Korean missile launched Monday had been fired from an underground silo as reported earlier, making it more difficult to detect North Korean missile launches in advance.

"(It) is something that we continue to watch, monitor very closely, something we continue to consult about with our allies and our partners in the region," the Pentagon spokesperson added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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