UN condemns Pyongyang’s submarine launch

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UN condemns Pyongyang’s submarine launch

The United Nations Security Council “strongly condemned” North Korea’s firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in a statement on Sunday, emphasizing that such tests are in violation of UN resolutions whether or not they succeed.

U.S. President Barack Obama also said during a visit to Germany on Sunday that Washington regards North Korea’s additional ballistic missile tests “very seriously” because it enables the country “to gain knowledge,” even if they fail. He also rejected North Korea’s proposal to halt conducting nuclear tests if Washington suspends joint military exercises with Seoul.

Pyongyang launched an SLBM in waters northeast of Sinpo, a port city in the eastern coast of South Hamgyong province, at around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, which South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff later deemed to have ended in failure.

The 15-member UN Security Council, headquartered in New York, issued a press statement that said the SLBM test constituted “yet another serious violation” of five resolutions adopted on North Korea since 2006. This includes the most recent UN Security Council Resolution 2270, passed unanimously last month, which imposed the toughest-ever sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its fourth nuclear test in January and subsequent long-range missile test in February.

It further said that the “development and testing of new ballistic missile capabilities, even if launches are failures, is clearly prohibited by these resolutions.”

The council warned that such ballistic missile activities contribute to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons delivery systems, increasing tension in the region.

It then called for Pyongyang to refrain from further actions, in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, and urged the regime to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program.

The Security Council issued a similar statement warning Pyongyang to refrain from further provocations immediately following the country’s failed launch of a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile on April 15.

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that it “cooperated closely with the United States and other allied nations” for the adoption of the Security Council statement on Pyongyang.

It also commended China, which assumed rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for April, for leading the adoption of the recent two statements on North Korea’s provocations.

Cho June-hyuck, the spokesman for the South’s Foreign Ministry, in an earlier statement on Sunday, warned that if North Korea engages in additional provocations, the South Korean government, in close cooperation with key countries, “will take necessary measures,” such as increasing international sanctions, including in the Security Council, to pressure North Korea.

He also urged North Korea to stop “linking the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises, conducted annually for defensive purposes, with North Korea’s nuclear tests.”

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong told The Associated Press in New York on Saturday that Washington must withdraw its “hostile policy” against his country, including its joint military exercises with Seoul, saying that Pyongyang will then “respond likewise.”

Ri concluded a five-day visit to New York on Sunday to take part in a high-level signing ceremony of a landmark climate agreement at the UN headquarters on Friday.

But at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover, Germany, U.S. President Obama dismissed Ri’s proposal, saying North Korea will not be able to engage Washington with military provocations followed by such a press release.

However, Obama left the door open for “serious conversation” with North Korea should it show seriousness about denuclearization, and said that meanwhile, Washington will emphasize its missile defense cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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