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U.N. Security Council condemns North Korea rocket launch

U.N. Security Council condemns North Korea rocket launchThe U.N. Security Council condemned North Koreas launch of a long-range rocket that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology and another intolerable provocation. The U.N.s most powerful body pledged to quickly adopt a new resolution with significant new sanctions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un went ahead with the launch just two hours after an eight-day window opened early Sunday, and a month after the countrys fourth nuclear test. He ignored an appeal from China, its neighbor and important ally, not to proceed, and, in another slap to Beijing, he chose the eve of the Chinese New Year, the countrys most important holiday.

In a reflection of heightened hostilities between the rival Koreas, South Koreas Defense Ministry said a South Korean naval vessel fired five shots into the water as a warning Monday when a North Korean patrol boat briefly moved south of the countries disputed boundary line in the Yellow Sea.

Since its Jan. 6 nuclear test, which the North claimed was a powerful hydrogen bomb, despite outside skepticism, China and the United States have been negotiating the text of a new Security Council sanctions resolution.

North Korean rocket launches and nuclear tests are seen as crucial steps toward Pyongyangs ultimate goal of a nuclear-armed missile that could hit the U.S. mainland.

At the U.N., the U.S., backed by its allies, Japan and South Korea, wants tough sanctions reflecting Kims defiance of the Security Council. But diplomats say China, the Norths key protector in the council, is reluctant to impose economic measures that could cause North Koreas economy to collapse and a flight of North Koreans into China across their shared border.

The 15-member Security Council strongly condemned the launch and pledged to expeditiously adopt a new resolution with further significant measures U.N. code for sanctions. The word robust referring to the measures was in an initial draft, but was dropped in the final statement.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters that it cannot be business as usual after two successive North Korean acts that are hostile and illegal.

Whats important is that the Security Council unites, Power said. China is a critical player. We are hopeful that China, like all council members, will see the grave threat to regional and international peace and security, see the importance of adopting tough, unprecedented measures, breaking new ground here, exceeding the expectations of Kim Jong Un.

However, Chinas U.N. ambassador, Liu Jieyi, made clear that unprecedented sanctions arent Beijings priority.

He said a new resolution should do the work of reducing tension, of working toward denuclearization (of the Korean peninsula), of maintaining peace and stability, and of encouraging a negotiated solution.

I believe the council needs to work together for a new resolution, Liu added, indicating that China may want negotiations with the United States to be widened.

Russias U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, whose country is also a North Korean ally, said: It has to be a weighty resolution, but it also has to be a reasonable resolution that doesnt lead to North Koreas economic or humanitarian collapse, or further heighten tensions.

Russias goal is to see six-party talks aimed at denuclearization resume, he said, but in the current atmosphere thats unlikely because the North Koreans have been very unreasonable and are challenging the entire international community.

We think this is wrong for their national interests for the Korean Peninsula for the region, Churkin said.

North Korea, which calls its launches part of a peaceful space program, said it had successfully put a new Earth observation satellite, the Kwangmyongsong 4, or Shining Star 4, into orbit less than 10 minutes after liftoff, and vowed more such launches. A U.S. official said it might take days to assess whether the launch was a success.

Japans U.N. ambassador, Motohide Yoshikawa, told reporters the missile, which went over Japan and landed near the Philippines, was a clear threat to the lives of many people.

The Security Council underscored that launches using ballistic missile technology, even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle contribute to North Koreas development of systems to deliver nuclear weapons and violate four Security Council resolutions dating back to the Norths first nuclear test in 2006.

North Korea under Kim Jong Un has pledged to bolster its nuclear arsenal unless Washington scraps what Pyongyang calls a hostile policy meant to collapse Kims government.

In a development that will worry both Pyongyang and Beijing, a senior South Korean Defense Ministry official, Yoo Jeh Seung, told reporters that Seoul and Washington have agreed to begin talks on a possible deployment of the THAAD missile-defense system in South Korea. North Korea has long decried the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, and Beijing would see a South Korean deployment of THAAD, which is one of the worlds most advanced missile-defense systems, as a threat to its interests in the region.

In a statement, North Koreas National Aerospace Development Administration, in typical propaganda-laden language, praised the fascinating vapor of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star.

Juche is a North Korean philosophy focusing on self-reliance; the Day of the Shining Star refers to the Feb. 16 birthday of Kim Jong Uns father, former dictator Kim Jong Il. North Korea has previously staged rocket launches to mark important anniversaries.

The global condemnation began almost immediately.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye called the launch an intolerable provocation, saying the Norths efforts to advance its missile capabilities were all about maintaining the regime in Pyongyang and ignored the hardships of ordinary North Koreans.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan and reaffirmed the United States ironclad commitment to the security and defense of its allies, the State Department said.

The Foreign Ministry in China expressed regret that, disregarding the opposition from the international community, the (North) side obstinately insisted in carrying out a launch by using ballistic missile technologies.

Noting Chinas pivotal role in negotiating a new Security Council resolution, Britains deputy U.N. ambassador, Peter Wilson, said: Today is Chinese New Years eve and if I was a senior Chinese official, I would be pretty annoyed at whats been happening here. I know what I feel like when Im dragged out of bed on a major national holiday.

Kim Jong Un has overseen two of the Norths four nuclear tests and three long-range rocket launches since taking over after the death of his father in late 2011. The U.N. Security Council prohibits North Korea from nuclear and ballistic missile activity. Experts say that ballistic missiles and rockets in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology.

If North Korea has only nuclear weapons, thats not that intimidating. If they have only rockets, thats not that intimidating, either. But if they have both of them, that means they can attack any target on Earth. So it becomes a global issue, said Kwon Sejin, a professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

Source: Time
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