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10:10 14 February 2017

U.N. Security Council slams N. Korea's missile launching

NEW YORK, Feb. 13, Kyodo

The U.N. Security Council on Monday slammed North Korea for defying U.N. resolutions with yet another ballistic missile test, an act seen as a challenge to new U.S. President Donald Trump.

A press statement issued by the 15-member council after an emergency meeting "strongly condemned" the test, carried out early Sunday local time. The United States, Japan and South Korea requested the discussions on the matter.

Noting that the launch is a "grave violation" of past U.N. resolutions, the council warned of "further significant measures" against the reclusive country.

The statement came on the heels of Trump's pledge to get tough on North Korea and a strong accusation by new U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Pyongyang said earlier in the day it had successfully test-fired a new medium- to long-range ballistic missile, with leader Kim Jong Un hailing what he claimed is another way for the country to launch a nuclear attack.

The test a day before of "a surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2, Korean-style new type strategic weapon system," was supervised by Kim at the scene, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

The missile, fired from Kusong in the northwest of North Korea, reached as high as 550 kilometers and flew about 500 km before landing in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to South Korea's military.

North Korea's latest military action is widely seen as an attempt to test new U.S. officials, who have not fully spoken publicly about Washington's approach toward Pyongyang since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Earlier Monday, Trump said North Korea is "a big, big problem and we will deal with that very strongly." U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the latest missile launch is "unacceptable" and pointed to the need to "hold North Korea accountable -- not with our words, but with our actions."

North Korea's first launch of a missile since Trump won the U.S. presidential election in November took place as he was hosting talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Pyongyang, which has largely refrained from provocations in recent months, broke its silence after the Japanese and U.S. leaders urged it to abandon its nuclear and missile development programs.

North Korea has repeatedly insisted that its weapons programs are necessary to defend itself from a perceived U.S. threat.

It has urged the United States to withdraw its armed forces in South Korea and sign a permanent peace treaty to replace the armistice that stopped, but technically never ended, the 1950-1953 Korean War.

The missile launch is also Pyongyang's first provocative act since Guterres took office as new U.N. secretary general on Jan. 1. He strongly condemned North Korea for its latest saying, "This action is a further troubling violation of Security Council resolutions."

Guterres urged Pyongyang to "return to full compliance with its international obligations and to the path of denuclearization," adding the international community should continue to address the situation in a united manner.

==Kyodo

  • N. Korea claims successful test of new medium-range missile
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