WASHINGTON-- A top Republican congressman on Tuesday called for "forceful, swift" steps to stop North Korea's missile and nuclear development.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) made the call after the House Armed Services Committee held a closed-door briefing on the North's pursuit of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The session followed the communist nation's first test of an ICBM on July 4, which experts say could reach parts of the U.S., including Alaska.

"The apparent success of the July 4th test is an alarming development as North Korea accelerates its pursuit of being able to hold the United States at risk with nuclear weapons," Thornberry, chairman of the committee, said in a statement. "I have grown increasingly alarmed that North Korea is acting with a greater sense of urgency than we are."

He bemoaned what he called the U.S.'s neglect of its missile defenses especially in the last eight years.

"Now we face a growing threat with significant ground to make up," Thornberry continued. "The House-passed National Defense Authorization Act makes considerable progress toward that goal, but we need everyone responsible in Congress and the Administration to take forceful, swift steps to see that the U.S. and our allies are protected."

Source: Yonhap News Agency