11:36 8 March 2017
U.N. Security Council slams N. Korea for missile launching
NEW YORK, March 7, Kyodo
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday slammed North Korea for again defying U.N. resolutions with its latest ballistic missile test.
The 15-member council "strongly condemned" the test, carried out Monday morning local time, as a "grave violation" of Pyongyang's international obligations, according to a press statement.
The council also plans to convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss a further response, as requested jointly by the United States, Japan and South Korea.
On Monday, Pyongyang fired ballistic missiles that landed in waters as close as 300-350 kilometers off Japan's northwest coast. North Korea's official media has reported that the launch was a drill simulating a strike on U.S. military bases in Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed that that the test was a "clear challenge" to the international community. Abe said North Korea's "threat has entered a new phase."
In the statement, the council members also "deplore all the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ballistic missile activities" and "expressed serious concern" over the country's "increasingly destabilizing behavior and defiance." North Korea's official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
In a slight change of wording from past statements, the council also "emphasized the vital importance" of North Korea "showing sincere commitment to denuclearization."
In following a past pattern, the statement also said that the council members will closely monitor the situation and "take further significant measures" if necessary.
"The members of the Security Council further regretted that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is diverting resources to the pursuit of ballistic missiles while Democratic People's Republic of Korea citizens have great unmet needs," it added.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was quoted by the Korean Central News Agency as saying, "The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation."
The launches came after Pyongyang criticized the annual joint military exercises being conducted by Seoul and Washington. While the United States and South Korea consider the exercises routine, the North views them as preparation for war.
Under past U.N. resolutions, North Korea is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology. But a spate of six sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to dissuade the country from pursuing what it insists are defensive weapons.
According to a new U.N. report, North Korea is increasing the scale and refinement of the tactics it uses to evade international sanctions, particularly in the lucrative military technology trade.
In Tuesday's statement, the Security Council called on U.N. member states to step up their efforts to implement sanctions on Pyongyang.