UN condemns Pyongyang’s latest SLBM launch

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UN condemns Pyongyang’s latest SLBM launch

The UN Security Council condemned North Korea for its latest submarine-launched ballistic missile test off the East Coast, which catapulted the missile 500 kilometers (310 miles) into sea waters controlled by Japan. The UN called the test a “grave violation” of resolutions that ban the Communist country from testing such ballistic missiles.

In a statement approved by all 15 member states, the multinational body also criticized Pyongyang for missile launches in July and early August, which the UN said also violated Pyongyang’s obligations under its resolutions.

The statement, adopted Friday in New York, called on member states to “redouble their efforts” to carry out what has been referred to as the toughest sanctions ever to be slapped on North Korea reflecting its fourth underground nuclear test in January and a long-range missile launch the following month.

The statement said the North’s continuing provocations with ballistic missile launches were “in flagrant disregard” for the council’s repeated calls against such tests. The council also expressed “serious concern” for the North’s repeated missile launches this year despite warnings.

The adoption of a joint statement came two days after the North test-fired an SLBM from waters off the eastern port city of Sinpo on Wednesday morning, which demonstrated a considerable upgrade in the North’s SLBM capability compared to its previous tests, all of which were deemed failures by the South Korean military. In a sign of confidence gained from its launch, the North Korean media carried wide coverage of the launch, calling it the “success of the successes.” It boasted that the country was now equipped with “nuclear attack capability.”

Until Friday, it remained unclear whether the council would issue a statement unequivocally condemning the Kim Jong-un regime for its latest provocation considering Beijing’s attitude. Earlier this month, council member states’ efforts to produce a statement criticizing the North for a medium-range missile launch in July were scrapped due to China’s insistence that it include a denunciation of the deployment of the U.S.-operated missile defense system in South Korea. China’s insistence caused the efforts to adopt a statement to fail and sparked concerns that it would stand in the way of issuing a statement following North Korea’s missile launch on Wednesday.

The council’s agreement on the statement indicated China’s annoyance and therefore opted for the statement amid growing concerns over the North’s harder-to-detect missile capability. Some speculate Beijing chose to join others in drafting the statement because of its wish to successfully host the G-20 summit in Hangzhou on Sept. 4 and 5.

The North balked at the UN’s latest condemning statement on Sunday. An unnamed spokesperson of the North’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency on Sunday that the U.S. and its allies had “once again carried out a grave hostile act” against the country by objecting to its “self-defense measure.”

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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