North Korean Launch Condemned

The U.N. Security Council vows to tighten sanctions on North Korea after its latest rocket launch. Will it work?

UN-NK-305.jpg The U.N. Security Council meets in New York, April 13, 2009.

NEW YORK—The U.N. Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket and vowed to tighten sanctions on the reclusive regime.

The 15-member council, in a compromise statement agreed after a week of diplomatic bargaining, also called on North Korea to comply with a 2006 resolution banning missile tests.

North Korea said the April 5 launch carried a communications satellite but other governments regard this as a cover for a long-range missile test.

The international community is united..."

The White House

“The Security Council condemns the 5 April 2009 launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which is in contravention of Security Council resolution 1718 of 2006,” Claude Heller, the Mexican president of the Security Council, said.

The condemnation came in the form of a Security Council “presidential statement,” which lacks the same, legally binding force of a U.N. resolution.

The United States and Japan sought a tough and binding resolution, while China—which borders North Korea—was hesitant either to condemn the launch or to step up pressure on Pyongyang’s leader, Kim Jong Il.

North Korea claims the rocket lifted the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite into Earth orbit, but U.S. officials say the first stage of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan while the remaining stages, along with the payload itself, landed in the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea warned earlier that any U.N. rebuke could prompt it to pull out of six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear program. Those talks—involving the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia—are currently stalled.

In a brief statement, the White House welcomed what it called "today's clear and united message by the United Nations Security Council condemning North Korea's recent launch of a Taepodong 2 missile, confirming that it violates international law and would result in real consequences for North Korea."

"The international community is united in demanding that North Korea abandon its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and that it refrain from further provocations," it said.

It also vowed to "continue working with our allies and partners in the six-party talks to achieve the verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program and the reduction of tensions on the Korean Peninsula."

'Early' talks

In its statement, the Security Council expressed support for the talks and called for their “early” resumption.

It also expressed desire “for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the situation” and for efforts to achieve “the verifiable de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The statement says the Security Council “agrees to adjust the measures imposed” by the resolution adopted on Oct. 14, 2006, following North Korea’s detonation of a nuclear device.

That resolution, which has never been implemented, froze the assets and banned the travel of “persons or entities” involved in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The Security Council sanctions committee created by the 2006 resolution was instructed to report by April 24 on how the sanctions should be enforced. It is instructed to complete this task by April 30, if there is no agreement within the committee.

Original reporting by RFA's Korean service. Korean service director: Francis Huh. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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