Leaders mum on N. Korea's defiance on the Fourth

The White House and Republican leaders in Congress say they will not respond to provocative missile tests conducted by the Communist North Korean regime on America's Independence Day.

The tests, which numerous media outlets say consisted of seven Scud or similar mid-range missiles fired off the eastern coast of the Asian nation into the sea, occurred early Saturday morning and coincide with the commemoration of Independence Day in the United States. Earlier this week, North Korea tested shorter range missiles. The nation's government has indicated that tests could continue through July 10, The Washington Post reported.

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North Korea has escalated international tension this year with several long- and medium-range missile exercises and, most notably, a nuclear test in in May. The missiles launched Saturday reportedly could reach as far away as Japan. North Korea fired a long-range missile over Japan in earlier this year.

The South Korean and Japanese governments swiftly condemned Saturday's missile tests but a spokesman told The Hill not to expect a statement from the White House on Saturday in reaction to North Korea's latest actions.

Likewise, a spokespeople for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said no statements would be forthcoming. A spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) did not respond to a request for comment from by press time.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steel issued a statement saying the Obama administration's lack of support for a missile defense shield made the United States vulnerable to attacks by nuclear-armed nations.

"This is the latest of numerous reminders that we face a potential nuclear missile threat from  North Korea that this Administration has ignored by cutting funds for the missile defense programs critical to protecting America and our allies," Steel said.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, issued a similar statement. "This missile launch also highlights the dangerous lack of foresight demonstrated by the administration by slashing funding for missile defense initiatives," Price said. "Operating under the false hope that the world is somehow a safer place now than it was before January 20, 2009, is as dangerous as it is naive."

The nuclear explosion resulted in stiffer international sanctions against North Korea. At the time, President Obama issued a statement condemning the test. "These actions, while not a surprise given its statements and actions to date, are a matter of grave concern to all nations. North Korea's attempts to develop nuclear weapons, as well as its ballistic missile program, constitute a threat to international peace and security," Obama said.

After the April missile tests, Obama said, a "clear violation" of a United Nations resolution and emphasized the United States's participation in the so-called Six-Party Talks between the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"The United States is fully committed to maintaining security and stability in northeast Asia and we will continue working for the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the Six-Party Talks," he said at the time.

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