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UN Silent on North Korea Rocket Launch

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6 Apr 09 | AJE

The UN Security Council has ended a three-hour long emergency session over North Korea’s rocket launch with little more than a commitment to “continue consultations”.


Japan, South Korea, the US and the EU had accused Pyongyang of breaching UN resolutions with the rocket launch but Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, admitted there were differences of opinion, with China saying that any UN action must be “cautious and proportionate”.

Rice, who said before the meeting that “strong collective action” was needed on the rocket launch, said after the adjournment that Washington would press for a new resolution.

“The United States expressed its strong view that the launch … constituted a clear-cut violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718 and it is our view that this action merits a clear and strong response from United Nations Security Council,” she said on Sunday.

Council split

Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomy, reporting from the UN, said there was definitely a spilt at the council, with China and Russia calling for a cautious response, and the US, Japan, South Korea and EU countries urging a strong, unified response.

There was even disagreement over whether North Korea had violated Resolution 1718 which was adopted in 2006 after Pyongyang’s missile launch on July 5 and nuclear test on October 9 the same year.

It demands that the country refrain from any further nuclear testing or another ballistic missile launch.

Barack Obama, the US president, called the rocket launch a “provocation” that required a strong international response by the security council, during a speech in Prague on Sunday.

“Rules must be binding, violations must be punished, words must mean something,” he said.

But Yang Jiechi, the Chinese foreign minister, responding to calls for condemnation on the ministry’s website on Sunday, said that “relevant parties must … avoid taking actions that could make the situation even more tense”.

Russia also urged restraint while a report said Moscow was studying whether Pyongyang had in fact broken any UN Security Council resolutions.

Rocket launch

At the request of the US and Japanese governments, the security council meeting was called after North Korea launched what is believed to be a three-stage Taepodong-2 missile, with an estimated range of 6,700km.

Yukio Takasu, the Japanese ambassador the UN, said: “Thank God nothing fell on Japan. But it doesn’t change the situation. It is a clear sign of intention and a threat to international peace and security.”

Sunday’s launch sparked alarm because North Korea has acknowledged it has nuclear weapons.

For several tense minutes on Sunday, North Korea’s rocket flew through Japan’s airspace, which had given its military the authority to shoot down any threat – something Pyongyang had warned would be seen as an act of war.

North Korean state media reported that Pyongyang had sent a satellite into space at 00:29GMT on Sunday and that it was now circling the earth.

But Japan said the booster rockets fell harmlessly into the water, while the United States and Seoul said the launch had failed to get its payload, a satellite, into orbit.

South Korea called the launch “reckless”.

“The government cannot but express disappointment and regret over North Korea’s reckless act of firing a long-range rocket, which poses a serious threat to security on the Korean peninsula and the world,” Lee Dong-kwan, a spokesman for South Korea’s president, said.

“The government will deal firmly and resolutely with North Korea’s provocative act.”

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Written by Editors

5 April 2009 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Asia, UN

Tagged with , ,

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