UN Security Council meets to discuss sanctions

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UN Security Council meets to discuss sanctions

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Sung Kim, left, U.S. envoy to Seoul, and James D. Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, leave the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday after talking with Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. [YONHAP]

Following North Korea’s rocket launch yesterday morning, the 15-member United Nations Security Council body was to convene an emergency meeting at 1 a.m. today Korea Standard Time to “reach a consensus on adopting tougher sanctions against Pyongyang.”

“We verbally requested that the UN Security Council president put together a meeting to discuss matters involving Pyongyang’s missile launch,” a senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said yesterday. “The request was also made separately by the United States and Japan immediately after the North’s missile launch was confirmed.”

Morocco holds the presidency of the council this month.

South Korea and the U.S. believe tighter financial sanctions are needed. Sanctions on the North already include a ban on the supply of items that could be used by Pyongyang for its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Pyongyang’s rocket launch is a clear violation of UN resolutions as it involves the testing of ballistic missile technology. In April, when North Korea unsuccessfully tried to launch a rocket, the Security Council added a so-called “trigger” clause to impose punitive measures on the regime if it launched a rocket using ballistic missile technology or did an additional nuclear test. China and Russia agreed on the clause.

In New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the North’s launch.

“It is a clear violation of Security Council Resolution 1874, in which the council demanded that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology,” Ban’s spokesman said in a statement. “[Ban] is concerned about the negative consequences that this provocative act may have on peace and stability in the region.”

Condemnation followed also by the United States, Japan and China, which verbally tried to persuade the North to drop its launch plan.

“North Korea’s launch today using ballistic missile technology despite express prohibitions by UN Security Council resolutions is a highly provocative act that threatens regional security,” said Tommy Vietor, spokesman at the White House’s National Security Council, in a statement. “This action is yet another example of North Korea’s pattern of irresponsible behavior.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda convened an emergency security meeting and discussed measures against Pyongyang. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, though taking a softer line, expressed regret over the launch.

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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