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Blinken calls North Korea’s missile tests ‘profoundly destabilizing’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (File photo by Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called North Korea’s latest missile tests “profoundly destabilizing” and stated that Washington is working with South Korea, Japan and the United Nations to respond to the move.

“We are very focused with allies and partners in making sure that they and we are properly defended and that there are repercussions, consequences for these actions by North Korea,” Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC, after North Korea reportedly fired two ballistic missiles early Friday.

South Korea's army leadership said the weapon was fired toward the east but did not provide other details. Japan's Prime Minister's Office and the Defense Ministry also said they detected the North Korean launch and said it was possibly a ballistic missile.

Earlier, North Korea said its missile tests were its legitimate right to self-defense and warned of a strong response if Washington pressed ahead with its provocative move to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang.

The administration of US President Joe Biden on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions. Washington also called on the United Nations Security Council to take action against several North Korean individuals and entities accused of violating resolutions that ban North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons development.

A North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement the new sanctions underscore hostile American intent aimed at "isolating and stifling" the North despite Washington's repeated calls for Pyongyang to resume diplomacy.

"The US is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the DPRK's just activity to the UN Security Council," the statement said.

The spokesperson said that the North's development of the new missile is part of its efforts to modernize its military and explained that it does not target any specific country or threaten the security of its neighbors.

Pyongyang: US maintains a ‘gangster-like’ stance against North Korea

The spokesperson accused the United States of maintaining a "gangster-like" stance against Pyongyang.

"Nevertheless, the U.S. is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the DPRK's just activity to the UN Security Council," the spokesperson said.

"This shows that though the present U.S. administration is trumpeting about diplomacy and dialogue, it is still engrossed in its policy for isolating and stifling the DPRK ... If the U.S. adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to take stronger and certain reaction to it," the spokesperson said.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is willing to meet North Korean officials anywhere any time, without preconditions, in order to resume denuclearization talks. Pyongyang, however, accuses the US of applying double standards in its approaches to the two Koreas’ military activities and holds Washington’s duplicity responsible for stalled talks.

On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price claimed Washington remained committed to pursuing diplomacy with North Korea.

"What we have seen in recent days ... only underscores our belief that if we are going to make progress, that we will need to engage in that dialogue," he told a regular news briefing.

Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump took unprecedented steps towards apparently fraternizing the North by initiating several rounds of dialog with it, and even walking a number of steps into the country alongside North Korea's leader.

However, Washington blew, what Pyongyang called, a “golden opportunity” at mending the situation by insisting too much on the North’s denuclearization.

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