U.S. calls for UN Security Council meeting following missile launches
The United States on Tuesday (local time) called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to address the recent series of missile launches by North Korea, in apparent defiance of the international body's resolutions banning such tests by the secretive regime.
The U.S. call for a meeting, which was first reported by Agence France-Presse citing an anonymous diplomat, is expected to take place on Thursday behind closed doors and marks a change in tone from the Joe Biden administration’s policy of seeking engagement with Pyongyang.
“We will continue to ramp up the pressure on the North Koreans,” the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
The meeting was requested by the United States, France and Britain — three of the five permanent members on the Security Council — as well as non-permanent members Mexico, Ireland and Albania, the sources said Thursday.
Five countries, including China and Russia, hold permanent seats on the Security Council, which is tasked with ensuring world peace, while 10 other countries take up non-permanent seats in the council on a rotational basis.
The Security Council held its last meeting on North Korea’s missile program on Jan. 10, following Pyongyang’s test of a missile armed with a hypersonic gliding warhead on Jan. 5.
The most recent call from the United States for a Security Council meeting comes on the heels of a North Korean test of two missiles on Monday morning, which the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Tuesday were tactical guided missiles currently in production for deployment.
The KCNA’s report said the test was carried out to “selectively evaluate tactical guided missiles being produced and deployed and to verify the accuracy of the weapon system.”
The KCNA said the two tactical guided missiles were “launched in the western area of the DPRK and precisely hit an island target in the East Sea.” The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff reported on Monday that the missiles were fired from Sunan airfield in Pyongyang.
DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The JCS said the two missiles flew 380 kilometers (236 miles), reaching a maximum altitude of 42 kilometers.
Successive Security Council resolutions on North Korea’s nuclear and missile weapons programs, the most recent of which was passed in December 2017, prohibit the North from conducting missile or nuclear tests and have imposed increasingly punitive sanctions on Pyongyang, barring it from trading weapons, importing luxury goods or sending workers abroad to earn foreign currency for the regime.
However, there is little indication that the United Nations sanctions regime has deterred North Korea from further developing its arsenal of missiles and nuclear weapons.
Monday’s test was the fourth in an unusual spate of launches within the last two weeks.
North Korea conducted three other missile tests since the new year, beginning with two separate tests of what it claimed were hypersonic glide missiles on Jan. 5 and 10, followed by a test last Friday of tactical guided missiles fired from train cars.
The flurry of missile launches by Pyongyang in the new year have sparked concern from the United States, South Korea and neighboring Japan that the North is quickly honing the capabilities of its missiles, possibly with an eye to mount them with nuclear warheads.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]