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North Korea "remains one of the United States' most critical security challenges," according to the Defense Department's annual threat report on the country to Congress. The country's large but outdated military force "retains the capability to inflict serious damage" on neighboring Republic of Korea, and is prevented "primarily due to the strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance," states the report, which was released March 5. The Communist regime continues to develop its intermediate and long-range nuclear ballistic missile capabilities, conducting its third nuclear test last February. The report cites North Korea's "willingness to proliferate weapons" of mass destruction in violation of international norms as a serious secondary concern to the US. "Given North Korea’s unwillingness to abide by these commitments" the US plans to continue "close coordination," notably with South Korean and Japanese allies to "manage" North Korean security threats, the report's executive statement noted.