WASHINGTON - The United States on Wednesday urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to refrain from further provocations amid reports of an imminent missile launch by the Asian nation.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Washington was monitoring the situation and coordinating "closely" with its allies and partners.
"As we've said many times before, a ballistic missile launch would be a clear violation of North Korea's obligations under numerous (UN) Security Council resolutions," he told reporters at a regular news briefing.
"It would only further isolate DPRK, undermine its goal of economic development," he added. "So we urge the DPRK to refrain from taking further provocative actions."
Citing intelligence, the Republic of Korea's (ROK) Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said on Wednesday that it is highly likely that the DPRK would launch a mid-range missile "at any time from now on."
Ventrell said the US was taking "a range of prudent measures, " including missile defense, to defend itself and allies against threats posed by the DPRK.
Tensions have been heightened on the Korean Peninsula since the DPRK conducted its third nuclear test on February 12 in protest against joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
The DPRK has declared "a state of war" with the South and threatened to launch a preemptive nuclear strike for self-defense.
The country on Tuesday urged all foreign organizations, companies and tourists in the South to evacuate in case of war, saying the DPRK "does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war" as the situation on the peninsula "is inching close to a thermonuclear war."
"We don't have a recommendation for American citizens to take any particular precautions at this time," Ventrell said.
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