UN ‘strongly’ condemns North Korea’s latest missile launch

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UN ‘strongly’ condemns North Korea’s latest missile launch

The UN Security Council on Monday “strongly condemned” North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test a day earlier - its second such joint press statement this month - and stressed it will take further measures, including sanctions.

The members expressed “their utmost concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance of the Security Council,” in the joint press statement, calling the North’s latest missile launch a violation of its international obligations under six UNSC resolutions that have been passed since 2006.

North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch was carried out Sunday in Pukchang, South Pyongan Province, and flew 550 kilometers (342 miles) before landing in the East Sea, the second such test since the South’s election of President Moon Jae-in. Sunday’s launch marks North Korea’s eighth missile test this year alone.

The 15-member council, based in New York, said it will continue to “closely monitor the situation and take further significant measures including sanctions,” as it has previously expressed, until the North ceases all nuclear and missile tests.

It urged the body dealing with sanctions against the North, called the 1718 Committee, named after the UNSC resolution passed in 2006, “to redouble its efforts to improve global implementation of all measures.” This includes implementing recommendations by its panel of experts as soon as possible.

It noted that North Korea’s “illegal ballistic missile activities are significantly contributing to its development of nuclear weapons delivery systems” and expressed regret that Pyongyang chose to divert its resources in pursuit of this program, while its “citizens have great unmet needs.”

The council also expressed their commitment to “a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation,” and welcomed efforts by its members, as well as other countries, “to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.”

This statement comes merely a week after the adoption of its last joint press release a day after the North’s missile test on May 14.

The South Korean government lauded the council, including permanent members China and Russia, for having “swiftly announced a stern position on North Korea’s ballistic missile provocation,” said Cho June-hyuck, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul, in a briefing Tuesday.

He added that South Korea, the United States and Japan called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council scheduled for Tuesday to discuss a response to the North’s ballistic missile test. “Our government is closely discussing with the United States and other allied countries' measures to respond to North Korea’s continued provocations,” Cho said, adding that he could not elaborate because it involves closed-door talks between Security Council members.

Washington has suggested the suspension or downgrading of diplomatic relations with North Korea and the levying of secondary sanctions on third-country entities and individuals supporting the regime’s illegal activities. China could also ban crude oil exports to the North.

Army Gen. Lee Sun-jin, Korea’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), had a nearly 2-hour video conference with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts Tuesday agreeing to bolster “substantive cooperation” between the three countries in response to the North’s nuclear and missile threat. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the U.S. JCS, called to maintain a “fight tonight” readiness posture on the basis of close cooperation of the three countries, according to the Korean JCS.

The three JCS chairmen, including Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano of Japan, agreed to “enhance trilateral defense communication” and deepen their understanding of a unified vision of peace and stability in the region.

Lee said during the meeting, “The North Korean nuclear and missile program is a serious threat not only to the Korean Peninsula but to the peace and stability of the international community,” adding that “closer cooperation is needed more than at any other time.”

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

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