Emergency meeting held after missile launches

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Emergency meeting held after missile launches

Following North Korea’s defiant launch Wednesday of two medium-range ballistic missiles, UN Security Council members scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss further sanctions on Pyongyang.

The 15-member council held a closed-door special session at around 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Korean time today, according to South Korean representatives at the UN headquarters in New York.

The emergency meeting allegedly came at the request of Washington, which submitted a statement criticizing an array of recent ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang, a violation of UNSC resolutions that forbid the regime from using ballistic missile technology.

Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State, said at a briefing on Wednesday that North Korea’s missile launches are a “troubling” provocation.

“This is a troubling and provocative escalation that we’ve seen over the past several weeks,” she said. “We’re talking to our partners on the Security Council, particularly right now, but also our other regional allies to determine what the best way is to move forward.”

Harf warned the current sanctions imposed against Pyongyang would continue unless the regime abandoned its nuclear weapons program.

“We have incredibly tough sanctions on North Korea,” she said. “…We’ve been clear that the sanctions, the diplomatic isolation, the economic isolation, the political isolation - that will all continue as long as they don’t.”

North Korea fired two projectiles from a launch site in Sukchon County, north of Pyongyang, on Wednesday morning toward the East Sea, just a few minutes after South Korean President Park Geun-hye held a rare three-way summit with U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in The Hague.

At the trilateral talks, held on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, the three allies reached a consensus on making joint efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

The South Korean military said the two projectiles appeared to be Rodong missiles, mid-range ballistic missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers (807 miles).

When Pyongyang launched two Rodong missiles on July 4, 2009 - Independence Day in the United States - UNSC members adopted a verbal statement criticizing the launches.

Still, whether North Korea’s allies, China and Russia, which are among UNSC members, would support an additional statement to denounce Pyongyang remains to be seen.

Despite the successful reunions of war-separated families in February, held at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang Resort, inter-Korean relations have once again begun to deteriorate, particularly since the start of annual joint military drills between South Korea and the United States.

Yesterday, North Korea’s state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea denounced in a statement the South Korean president’s participation in the three-way talks with Washington and Tokyo, saying Park made “a huge mistake.”

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joonang.co.kr]

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