N Korea's nuclear tests act as real threat to US: Leon Panetta

Leon Panetta

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta today said that the combination of a recent missile test combined with nuclear explosions by North Korea represents a real threat to America.

"There is no question that North Korea constitutes a threat to the United States, to regional stability and to global security. The combination of a recent missile test

combined with what apparently was this nuclear test, we believe, represents a real threat to the USA," Panetta told reporters at his last press conference.

Earlier, Panetta spoke with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-Jin to discuss immediate coordinated actions and continuing collaboration in the wake of North Korea's highly provocative nuclear test.

The US military will take all necessary steps to meet our security commitments to the Republic of Korea and to our regional allies," he said.

Panetta said the actions of the North Korea regime are undermining regional security. "The regime's actions are increasing the risks of proliferation and further isolating North Korea from the international community," he added.

The US, is continuing to try to evaluate and assess whether or not the North Korean tests was in fact a nuclear test. "But there's no question that North Korea has continued to enrich fuel,"he said.

"They've conducted tests in the past. I think the combination of their continuing pursuit of not only a nuclear weapon but of developing intercontinental ballistic missile capability represents a real threat to the United States. They continue to be engaged in provocative behavior. They are isolating themselves from the rest of the world," he said.

Citing Russia, China, he said "Almost the whole world has condemned what they have done. And as a result of that, it should be of great concern to the international community that they are continuing to develop their capabilities to threaten the security not only of South Korea but of the rest of the world. And for that reason, I think that we have to take steps to make very clear to them that that kind of behavior is unacceptable," said the Defense Secretary.

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