UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting late Wednesday on North Korea's launch of two ballistic missiles and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power called for "urgent and united condemnation."
France's deputy U.N. ambassador Alexis Lamek, whose country holds the council presidency, told reporters after the meeting that the council intends to react quickly and express opposition to the launches which violate Security Council resolutions banning ballistic missile tests.
He said all 15 council members also stressed "the crucial importance" of working for implementation of the latest sanctions on North Korea and their commitment "to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to this situation."
Lamek said members should have the text of a press statement "very soon" and it could be adopted in "a matter of days."
The United States and Japan, after consulting South Korea, requested a closed-door briefing from the U.N. Secretariat on the North's reported firing of the two midrange missiles. One flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) high after five failed attempts in recent months, a significant step in the development of a powerful ballistic missile that could reach U.S. bases in the Pacific.
Power told reporters as she headed into the council meeting that North Korea's repeated defiance of international law "underscores how important it is for us to come together to ensure consequences for this inherently destabilizing behavior, and this inherent and consistent and repeated threat to international peace and security."
The Security Council, which has imposed five rounds of sanctions on the North, strongly condemned three previous launches on June 1, calling them "a grave violation" of a ban on all ballistic missile activity that contributed to the country's nuclear weapons program.
The latest sanctions imposed by the council on March 2 were the toughest on North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at what Pyongyang claims was its first hydrogen bomb test on Jan. 6 and a rocket launch in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity.
The sanctions include mandatory inspections of cargo leaving and entering North Korea by land, sea or air; a ban on all sales or transfers of small arms and light weapons to Pyongyang; and expulsion of diplomats from the North who engage in "illicit activities."
Power stressed that as North Korea continues testing missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons, "they make progress and they learn things."
Therefore, she said, "it is extremely important that we come together and we address any hidden gaps there may be in the enforcement" of the latest sanctions resolution.
Power also stressed that united condemnation from the U.N.'s most powerful body is a first step.
"We're again looking to ensure accountability — looking to identify again individuals, entities who may be responsible for this repeated series of tests that pose such a threat to international peace and security," she said.
A spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the launch "a brazen and irresponsible act," and "a deliberate and very grave violation of its international obligations."
"The DPRK must change its course for a denuclearized Korean peninsula," Farhan Haq said, using the initials of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.