[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/04/nkorea.missiles/art.north.south.korea.soldiers.afp.gi.jpg caption="N. Korean army soldiers, back, look at a S. Korean soldier, center, in the demilitarized zone in June."]
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
The State Department Monday continued to publicly downplay the threat North Korea presents to the U.S.—spokesman n P.J. Crowley telling reporters North Korea “represents an infinitesimal threat to the United States directly.”
The spokesman’s statement followed comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview with ABC broadcast Monday in which she said the reason for the United States’ low-key reaction to the North’s recent missile test was "We weren't going to give the North Koreans the satisfaction they were looking for, which was to elevate them to center stage."
In that interview, Clinton said the North has a “constant demand for attention" and added "maybe it's the mother in me, the experience I've had with small children and teen-agers and people who are demanding attention: Don't give it to them."
While calling the direct threat to the U.S. “infinitesimal,” Crowley went on to say that “North Korea, and its provocative actions, does represent a significant threat to the region and its actions recently have been unhelpful and potentially destabilizing.”
A senior U.S. official, speaking on background, said there is a “theoretical” question of whether a North Korean missile could hit the United States. “There’s nothing in their recent development,” he said, “which would suggest that their technology is becoming more accurate.”
The U.S. says its primary concerns about North Korea’s actions are its impact on security in the region and the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Last week the United Nations imposed sanctions on a number of North Korean individuals, companies and goods connected with the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Taking aim at several key North Korean officials, it subjected them to a freeze on their assets and an international travel ban.
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