By Meghashyam Mali - 04/07/13 01:00 PM EDT
The Pentagon has decided to delay the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile originally planned for this week, amid rising tensions with North Korea, reports said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to postpone the test of the Minuteman 3 missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, over fears that the launch could worsen relations with Pyongyang, a senior defense official told the Associated Press, which first reported the delay.
Pyongyang has taken a number of provocative steps in recent months after the United Nations imposed tougher economic sanctions in response to its third nuclear test.
North Korea has declared a “state of war” with the South, threatened the U.S. with nuclear attack, and blocked access to a joint economic zone with Seoul.
In response, the United States has deployed a missile defense system to Guam and moved Navy ships off the Korean peninsula. The U.S. and South Korea have also continued to mount military exercises, while the White House has urged the North to tamp down its rhetoric and return to talks over the country’s nuclear program.
The White House said last week that they were taking North Korea’s threats seriously, but believed that an attack from the rogue regime was unlikely.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday urged North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to “choose the path to peace” after reports said the nation had deployed missiles to its east coast.
"I would simply say that we're monitoring both the actions taken by and the statements made by the North Korean leadership," Carney told reporters. "And we're also taking prudent measures to respond to that activity and to those statements."