U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says North Korea's planned missile launch may be the first of what could be additional threats to regional security. There are growing concerns that North Korea may be planning another nuclear test.
Secretary Clinton says North Korea's planned long-range missile launch will put its neighbors at risk and undermine the credibility of new President Kim Jong Un.
"This new threat comes only weeks after North Korea agreed to a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing," said Clinton. "The speed of the turnaround raises questions about Pyongyang’s seriousness in saying that it desires to improve relations with us and its neighbors."
In a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, Secretary Clinton said North Korea's decision to launch a three-stage ballistic missile could be the first of Pyongyang's provocations.
"This launch will give credence to the view that North Korean leaders see improved relations with the outside world as a threat to the existence of their system," she said. "And recent history strongly suggests that additional provocations may follow."
South Korean intelligence photos, obtained by VOA, show what appear to be preparations for a third North Korean nuclear test.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland will not confirm that intelligence information, but says another nuclear test "would be equally bad if not worse" than the missile launch.
Secretary Clinton says Washington is working around the clock with allies in Tokyo and Seoul to sharpen their deterrence to North Korea.
"We will also work with Russia and with China.," said Clinton. "They both share a strong interest in stability on the Korean Peninsula, and will join us in sending a clear message to Pyongyang that true security will only come from living up to its commitments and obligations, first and foremost to their own people."
Talks among North Korea, the United States, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan broke down in 2009 when Pyongyang expelled international inspectors and carried out its second nuclear test.
Stemming North Korea's nuclear ambitions will be part of talks Wednesday and Thursday in Washington when Secretary Clinton hosts foreign ministers from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations.