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South Korea Regrets 'Reckless' Launch By North, Vows UN Action


South Korea is expressing disappointment and alarm at all levels at North Korea's launch of a long range rocket. Senior officials say they will seek a response from the United Nations Security Council.

South Korea's Defense Ministry confirmed North Korea's launch Sunday, saying it would be ready to counteract any further provocative behavior.

Brigadier-General Kim Chong-bae, with the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, says a South Korean army task force has been set up to keep a close watch on the North's actions. He says the South will be swift to react to any North Korean provocation, in cooperation with the United States.

Lee Dong-kwan, spokesman for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, calls the launch a "reckless" and grave threat to world peace.

Lee says it is very regrettable North Korea is threatening world security, at a time when nations are trying to pull together and deal with the global financial crisis. He vows a firm reaction from the South Korean government.

Pyongyang has described Sunday's launch as a peaceful space research mission to put a communications satellite into orbit. However, South Korea, Japan, the United States and the European Union have all urged the North not to proceed with the launch. They view it as a test of the North's long-range missile capability, which the United Nations prohibited in a resolution passed after Pyongyang's 2006 nuclear weapons test.

Japan has already requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss a response. South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan says the South will support action by the council.

He says North Korea has spent a huge amount of money to develop and launch this rocket, even as it suffers from severe food shortages. He calls that an extreme disappointment to South Korea and all of the international community.

Experts view it as unlikely that China and Russia, two permanent veto-holding members of the U.N. Council, will back new punitive action against North Korea.

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