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State Department: North Korea's direct threat to U.S. 'infinitesimal'

  • Story Highlights
  • State Department spokesman: Recent actions "potentially destabilizing" to region
  • Secretary of State Clinton: North Korea has "constant demand for attention"
  • That is why U.S. had low-key reaction to missile tests, Clinton says
By Jill Dougherty
CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The State Department on Monday continued to publicly downplay the threat North Korea presents to the United States with spokesman P.J. Crowley telling reporters North Korea "represents an infinitesimal threat to the United States directly."

A North Korean soldier looks at the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone earlier this month.

A North Korean soldier looks at the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone earlier this month.

The spokesman's statement followed comments from 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 North Korea's recent missile test was that the United States wasn'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 North Korea has a "constant demand for attention," and she added, "maybe it's the mother in me, the experience I've had with small children and teenagers and people who are demanding attention: Don't give it to them."

After 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, who did not want to be identified, 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 United States 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 individuals, companies and goods connected with North Korea'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.

All About North KoreaU.S. Department of StateHillary Clinton

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