Seoul pushes UN to act on Pyongyang

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Seoul pushes UN to act on Pyongyang

South Korea, which began its official two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Jan. 1, is pushing the international body to take action against North Korea’s recent long-range missile launch within two weeks time, a senior government official said yesterday.

“Our basic stance is that any action taken by the [UN] Security Council should be done quickly and with great force,” the official said. “We are doing our best to round up [the discussion among UNSC members] as early as possible. We are making it a priority to conclude [the discussion] before the end of this month.”

On Dec. 12, Pyongyang successfully fired off a three-stage rocket, which drew strong condemnation from the international community. North Korea has described the launch as sending “a scientific satellite” into orbit, but the outside world sees it as the North testing its missile capabilities, which is a violation of the UN resolutions.

According to the senior official, the 15-member UN Security Council convened an emergency meeting in New York one day after the launch, and after holding close consultations, the council said in a statement that it will consider “an appropriate response,” which can include new sanctions.

China, the North’s closest ally and a veto-wielding Security Council member, however, is known to be lukewarm in supporting countries to introduce new sanctions against the North.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed “regret” over the North’s rocket launch but said any response by the UN should be made with “prudence.”

“Key players, including South Korea, are currently in the process of unofficially negotiating UNSC countermeasures against North Korea,” the official said. “Negotiations have been inactive over the past two weeks or so because of the end of the year holidays. But discussions will pick up this week.”

The official also added that “other countries, for example, the United States and China, will feel uncomfortable discussing this issue [related to North Korea] in February, the month South Korea assumes the rotating presidency of the council.”

The remarks come as South Korea has officially joined the UN’s most powerful body as a non-permanent member after being elected in October, last year.

By Lee Eun-joo []
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