N Korea missile launch a provocation: US, SKorea

Washington: The US and South Korea will consider any missile launch by North Korea as "serious provocation" and a violation of its international obligations, including UN resolutions, a top Pentagon official has said.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has called his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan Jin, as tensions increase in the Korean peninsula on a missile launch by Pyongyang.

"Both leaders would regard a missile launch by North Korea as a serious provocation and a violation of North Korea`s international obligations and standing UN Security Council Resolutions," Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, said after telephonic talks between the two leaders.

Secretary Panetta and Minister Kim reaffirmed their shared commitment to closely monitor North Korea`s efforts and to ensure the defense of the Republic of Korea, Little said.

Earlier in the day, the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, termed it as provocative. "We view the potential rocket launch as a very provocative act that would be, if it were conducted, done in direct violation of North Korea`s international obligations.

Any further testing, underground testing, would be a provocative action," he told reporters.

"Because we judge North Korea by its actions, in each case this would be an indication of North Korea`s decision, at the leadership level, not to take the steps that are necessary to allow North Korea to end its isolation, to rejoin the community of nations, and to do something about the extreme poverty and deprivation that its people suffer from because of the nature of the system that they live under and the isolation that they`ve brought on themselves," he said.

"We will continue to do the things that we have been doing in the past to isolate and pressure North Korea, and make clear to North Korea that the only path to a better future or that country and its people is to take the actions necessary to demonstrate that the country is willing to live up to its international obligations and rejoin the community of nations," Carney said.

Carney said the US is regular contact with all of its partners who have been working with the US on this issue. "The plan itself to conduct a missile launch is in direct violation of North Korea`s international obligations and represents a highly provocative act," he said.

"The President has already said that to follow through with this act would make it virtually impossible for the United States to provide the nutritional assistance that we had planned to provide," he said.

"That fact alone reinforces the kind of regime that we`re dealing with when we talk about North Korea — because the decision that they make to go through with this provocative act directly results in more deprivation for their people — a people who are literally starving and suffer greatly because of the actions of the regime in Pyongyang," Carney said.