(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of U.S. holding joint military exercises with South Korea, Japan, remarks from a Pentagon spokesperson in last 3 paras; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (Yonhap) -- The United States strongly condemned North Korea's launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile Tuesday, calling it a reckless decision that poses an unacceptable threat to regional and international security.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan also discussed appropriate responses the international community should take in phone talks with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.
"The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) dangerous and reckless decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a released statement, referring to North Korea by its official name.
"This action is destabilizing and shows the DPRK's blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms," she added.
North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday (Seoul time) that flew some 4,500 kilometers over Japan, marking its fifth missile test in just over a week.
Since the start of the year, the country has staged more than 20 rounds of missile tests, firing nearly 50 ballistic missiles, the largest number of ballistic missiles launched in a year.
Sullivan held separate telephone conversations with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Sung-han, and Japanese counterpart, Takeo Akiba, soon after the North staged its latest missile launch, according to Watson.
"In both calls, the national security advisors consulted on appropriate and robust joint and international responses and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reinforced the United States' ironclad commitments to the defense of Japan and the ROK," she said.
ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also held separate calls with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts -- Park Jin and Yoshimasa Hayashi, respectively, according to department spokesperson Ned Price.
The launch posed "an unacceptable threat to the Japanese public," the spokesperson said in a press release.
"Secretary Blinken, Foreign Minister Park, and Foreign Minister Hayashi strongly condemned the launch and its blatant disregard of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and its deeply destabilizing implications for the region," the press release said.
Blinken also underscored the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan, according to Price.
"He (Blinken) also reaffirmed the importance of continuing close trilateral cooperation with the ROK and Japan to hold the DPRK accountable for its unacceptable behavior," Price said.
The U.S., however, continues to remain open to dialogue with North Korea, another state department spokesperson said.
"Together with the international community, we call on the DPRK to refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue," the spokesperson told Yonhap News Agency in an email.
The White House and the Department of Defense later said the U.S. held joint military exercises separately with South Korea and Japan on Tuesday (local time) in response to North Korea's latest missile provocation.
"Any type of exercises that we conduct, again it demonstrates the full range of capabilities that we have," Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said when asked about the message the joint military exercises are intended to send to North Korea.
"It's the fact that our militaries can work together across multiple, different types of platforms, capabilities, environments, that we can fly together, we can fight together ... not just in the air, on the sea and on the land, that we have capabilities that enable us to integrate and synchronize and to deter and defend," he added.