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WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday the United States is "very concerned" about North Korea's threat to carry out a nuclear test and further rocket launches but is prepared to deal with any kind of provocation from Pyongyang.
Panetta, speaking at a Pentagon news conference, said North Korea's actions would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, would distance Pyongyang from the international community and would "do nothing - nothing other than jeopardize the hope for peace."
"We are very concerned with North Korea's continuing provocative behavior," Panetta said. "We are fully prepared ... to deal with any kind of provocation from the North Koreans. But I hope in the end that they determine that it is better to make a choice to become part of the international family."
(Reporting by David Alexander and Phil Stewart; Editing by Will Dunham)