07:32 7 March 2017
U.N. Security Council to hold emergency talks on N. Korea
NEW YORK, March 6, Kyodo
The U.N. Security Council plans to convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday, possibly to issue a statement rebuking North Korea for its new ballistic missile launches in breach of U.N. resolutions, diplomatic sources said Monday.
Meanwhile, a North Korean government official said his country's latest ballistic missile launches were part of efforts to build up its defensive military capabilities.
"We think it is a normal process to develop our self-defensive military force," Ri Song Chol, counselor of North Korea's permanent mission to the United Nations, told Kyodo News.
He also said the launches were in line with Pyongyang's policy of pursuing "simultaneous development of nuclear forces and economy."
The Security Council's move to convene an emergency meeting came in response to a request by Japan, the United States and South Korea.
North Korea earlier in the day almost simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles that flew up to 1,000 kilometers before landing within or very close to Japan's exclusive economic zone.
The missiles were launched from an area near Tongchang-ri in northwest North Korea at around 7:34 a.m. local time, Japanese and South Korean officials said.
The action came as Pyongyang has criticized annual joint military exercises being conducted by Seoul and Washington.
Ri said that just prior to the start of the exercises, Pyongyang had warned that it could launch missiles at any time.
North Korea has been driven into developing intercontinental ballistic missiles by "the United States with its hostile policy against the DPRK, violating our sovereign right and right to development for decades," he said.
North Korea has already been subject to severe U.N. sanctions for some time, but last year alone it test-fired more than 20 ballistic missiles and carried out two nuclear tests.
A Security Council press statement has no binding force, but to issue such a statement, approval from all 15 members is required in principle.
Speaking at a news briefing, U.N. Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq on Monday urged North Korea to refrain from any further provocation.
"We deplore the continued violation of the Security Council resolutions by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, including most recent launches of ballistic missiles," he said, referring to the country by its formal name.
"The DPRK leadership should refrain from further provocations and return to full compliance with its international obligations," Haq said.