UN Security Council takes issue with North tests

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UN Security Council takes issue with North tests

The UN Security Council condemned North Korea’s launching of three intermediate-range ballistic missiles on Monday in a joint statement on Tuesday, warning it plans to take “further significant measures” against the Pyongyang regime.

In a press statement, the Security Council said its members “deplore” all of Pyongyang’s ballistic missile activities, which violate UN resolutions and contribute to its “development of nuclear weapons delivery systems and increase tension.”

This marks the council’s ninth joint statement on Pyongyang’s provocations this year.

On Monday, North Korea launched three Rodong missiles that traveled some 1,000 kilometers and landed in Japan’s air defense identification zone.

The 15-member council convened an emergency meeting before unanimously agreeing on the statement.

It pointed out this latest test as well as the North’s previous 10 ballistic missile launches between April and August showed a “flagrant disregard of repeated statements of the Security Council” and were a “grave violation” of UNSC resolutions.

The council further called for countries to “redouble their efforts” to implement UNSC Resolution 2270 adopted in March, implementing the toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea following its fourth nuclear test and long-range missile launch at the beginning of the year.

The statement further said that the Security Council “would continue to closely monitor the situation and take further significant measures in line with the council’s previously expressed determination.”

The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs commended the press statement, which was backed by China and Russia, permanent members of the council.

It said the statement “issued a strong warning to North Korea for its continued provocations through ballistic missile launches” and “showed the Security Council’s united will by to change North Korea’s wrongful ways through the faithful implementation of UNSC resolutions.”

The council issued a similar statement last Friday condemning Pyongyang’s submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test last week.

While these latest two statements came days after North Korea’s missiles test, last month the council stalled on issuing a U.S. drafted statement after Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles, one landing in waters controlled by Japan on Aug. 3.

This delay followed Seoul and Washington’s decision in July to deploy the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system in Korea, vehemently opposed by Beijing and Moscow.

On Tuesday, President Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama held bilateral talks in Vientiane, Laos, where the two leaders sent a united message condemning North Korea’s continued missile launches, including on Monday, when the G-20 leaders’ summit was hosted by China in Hangzhou.

At a joint press conference with Park, Obama said that in addition to the “most intense sanctions regime” ever placed on Pyongyang, he will work with Seoul “to make sure that we’re closing loopholes and making them even more effective.”

Park likewise issued a “stern warning” to Pyongyang for launching missiles on Monday, adding that Seoul and Washington will respond to any provocations by North Korea “by utilizing all means.”

She noted the importance of China’s role in effective implementation of UN Security Council sanctions, adding Seoul and Washington agreed to “continue to communicate with China through various channels” over this issue.

On the deployment of the antimissile defense system to Korea, Obama said, “Our missile defense cooperation - Thaad - is a purely defensive system to deter and defend against North Korean threats.”

Park said the two “agreed to maintain a strong deterrence posture by enhancing our combined defense capabilities to include the deployment of the Thaad system.”

Beijing and Moscow have been concerned that the powerful X-Band radar, a key component of the Thaad battery, can be used to spy on their territories and threaten their national security interests.

Obama also highlighted that the Korea-U.S. alliance “remains the lynchpin of peace and security” in the region and spoke highly of Park, calling her “a stalwart ally and friend on a whole range of issues.”

Earlier this week, Park took the opportunity to explain that Thaad is designed to defend against Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats to Chinese President Xi Jinping in bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on Monday. But Xi reiterated his opposition to the deployment of Thaad.

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

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