UN Powers Condemn North Korean Missile Test

2017-02-13
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the test-launch of a surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 at an undisclosed location in North Korea, Feb. 12, 2017.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the test-launch of a surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 at an undisclosed location in North Korea, Feb. 12, 2017.
AFP

Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET on 2017-02-14

The UN Security Council on Monday condemned North Korea's weekend ballistic missile test, while the Pentagon said it was prepared to defend allies South Korea and Japan from missile attack.

A council statement agreed to by all 15 members condemned Saturday’s launch and a previous test Oct. 19 as actions that violate UN sanctions and threaten peace. It called on all UN members “to redouble their efforts” to implement UN sanctions.

The Council met Monday evening, after a call earlier in the day by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a united international response to the test.

U.S. President Donald Trump, facing the first challenge from Pyongyang of his three-week-old presidency, told reporters that Washington would have a strong response to what North Korean state media said was a successful launch Sunday of the Pukguksong-2, a "Korean-style new type strategic weapon system."

"Obviously, North Korea is a big, big problem," he said. "And we will deal with that very strongly," Trump told a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The intermediate-range missile flew about 500 kms (310 miles) before landing into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to South Korea's military. The North's first missile launch of 2017 drew condemnation, from Trump, U.S. allies Japan and South Korea, as well as from North Korea's traditional backers Russia and China.

Russia and China were to join the United States and other members of the UN Security Council for an urgent meeting Monday evening to discuss Sunday's test, which violates a raft of Security Council resolutions aimed at halting the North's drive for a deliverable nuclear weapon.

Guterres said in a statement that North Korea "must return to full compliance with its international obligations and to the path of denuclearization."

AFP quoted Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis on Monday as saying the United States and its Asian allies are capable of shooting down any missile from North Korea.

North Korea is "very open and transparent about their desire to build this capability, and we are open about our ability to defeat it," the agency quoted Davis as saying.

"We are capable of defending against a North Korean ballistic missile attack and will take all necessary measures to deter and defeat threats to us and our allies," he added.

North Korea's state-run KCNA said leader Kim Jong Un had "personally guided" test preparations for the "medium long range" Pukguksong-2, which it said was powered by a solid-fuel engine.

Kim Jong-Un "expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means which adds to the tremendous might of the country," said KCNA.

Analysts told RFA's Korean Service that the Trump administration should expect more provocative behavior from North Korea.

"North Korea's rocket test is much more than a 'provocation' -- it is part and parcel of Pyongyang's plan to perfect its long range intercontinental missile capability for hitting New York and Washington with nuclear warheads," said Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

"The Trump Administration must recognize that the threat will only grow unless America and her allies take a new and different approach to the North Korea problem," he told RFA in emailed remarks.

More tests are likely no matter how Washington responds, said North Korea expert Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University in Seoul.

"I expect tough talk, and may be some gestures, like sending bombers to fly near North Korean borders.  But this will not have any impact. We will see more tests, more launches in months to come," said Lankov, on occasional columnist for RFA.

Reported by Changsop Pyon and Sungwon Yang for RFA's Korean Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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