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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 - Page updated at 08:33 AM

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North Korea missile threat called "very disturbing" by Gregoire

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said Monday the threat of a missile attack by North Korea reinforces the idea U.S. troops should leave Iraq as soon as possible.

Gregoire told reporters during her regular news briefing that she talked over the weekend with the head of the Washington National Guard, Major Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, who convinced her that America's defenses are down because of the war effort.

Several published reports Monday said North Korea may be on the verge of testing a missile that could reach the United States.

Gregoire brought up the possible missile threat at the end of her news briefing: "I've wanted to respond to the very disturbing news this morning of North Korea and a three-stage rocket that literally could reach Seattle."

"I'm disturbed by what we're hearing," she continued. "It is not the news that I think any of us should have to hear from North Korea, and I want Washingtonians to understand the security risks to the nation and to us. ... To me, this points out that we need to bring our troops home. This is another wake-up call."

Gregoire hadn't previously spoken on Iraq. News that North Korea may have a missile that potentially could reach Seattle prompted her comments, said communications director Holly Armstrong.

The governor is alarmed enough that she and Lowenberg talked about planning sessions for the National Guard "because the security and safety of Washingtonians has to be our No. 1 priority."

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