UN to consider statement on North Korea missile launch

AP News
Posted: Aug 24, 2016 10:09 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council agreed at an emergency meeting late Wednesday to consider issuing a statement on the latest North Korean missile launch.

Malaysia's U.N. Ambassador Ramlan Bin Ibrahim, the current council president, told reporters after the closed meeting that "there was a general sense of condemnation by most members of the council."

He said the United States is drafting the text of a press statement "and we will have a look at it."

After North Korea's previous missile test, the U.S. also proposed a press statement, but diplomats said China insisted on language linking it to U.S. plans to place a high-tech missile defense system in South Korea. So the U.S. dropped the statement, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

The Security Council in March imposed the toughest sanctions on North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at Pyongyang's latest nuclear test and rocket launch in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity.

China, Russia and others expressed hope when it was adopted that the sanctions would lead to the immediate resumption of six-party talks aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. North Korea withdrew from the talks in 2008.

But the North has continued to launch ballistic missiles and tensions have mounted. Wednesday's launch came two days after the U.S. and South Korea began military exercises, prompting North Korean threats of retaliation for the military drills, which it views as an invasion rehearsal.

Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Petr Iliichev, asked about Wednesday's meeting, said there was the "usual condemnation for violation of resolutions."

But he said council members also stressed the "responsibility of the regional actors" for not implementing the March resolution and finding a way "for stabilization (and a) political, diplomatic, political solution to the problem."

The U.S. and Japan called for the emergency meeting after North Korea fired a ballistic missile from a submarine earlier Wednesday.

South Korean officials said the missile flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles), the longest distance achieved by the North for such a weapon.

That means all of South Korea, and possibly parts of Japan, are within its striking distance.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the missile launch, "in defiance of the united call of the international community to reverse its course, is deeply troubling," according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"Not only are such actions a clear violation of relevant Security Council resolutions but they also undermine peace and stability in the Korean peninsula," Dujarric said.

The secretary-general called on North Korea "to take steps necessary to de-escalate the situation and return to dialogue on denuclearization," he said.

A North Korean nuclear test in January and a series of missile launches by Pyongyang have all been carried out in violation of Security Council resolutions.