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US-South Korea drills deter North Korea, Pentagon claims hours after North Korea launches ICBM

The Department of Defense claimed Thursday its frequent joint military exercises with South Korea continues to deter North Korean attacks.

“I think what’s important for people to understand is, one, deterrence continues to work,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters at a daily Department of Defense press briefing.

NORTH KOREA FIRES MULTIPLE BALLISTIC MISSILES INTO SEA AHEAD OF SOUTH KOREA-JAPAN SUMMIT

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder answers questions during a briefing at the Pentagon March 16, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia.

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder answers questions during a briefing at the Pentagon March 16, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The remarks came just hours after North Korea launched its latest ICBM — the second of the year.

The South Korean military said the missile was fired toward the East Sea. The launch came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Kishida were slated to meet in Tokyo to discuss various issues.

NORTH KOREA TEST FIRES TWO CRUISE MISSILES FROM A SUBMARINE

In this photo distributed by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, walks around what it says is a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on the launcher, at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

In this photo distributed by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, walks around what it says is a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on the launcher, at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

“Despite launching missiles into the ocean, North Korea is not attacking, nor should they, and that the United States, Japan, South Korea and other allies and partners in the region will continue to work together to expand that deterrence and to keep our countries safe,” Ryder stated.

The Thursday ICMB launch also came amid the ongoing South Korea-U.S. Freedom Shield (FS) exercise, which the North has decried as “preparations for a war of aggression” against it, South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported. 

USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS WOULD BE ‘END OF NORTH KOREAN REGIME,’ PENTAGON WARNS

This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what it says is a test-fire of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what it says is a test-fire of a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

“And so in terms of North Korea’s reactions to these types of exercises, as you heard me say before, not only is it inappropriate, it is destabilizing and concerning clearly to those in the region,” Ryder concluded.

The White House strongly condemned the launch.

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In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with his daughter, inspects what it says is an artillery drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with his daughter, inspects what it says is an artillery drill at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

“This launch is a flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. While U.S. INDOPACOM has assessed it did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, or territory, or to our allies, this launch needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region,” National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote in a statement.

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