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UN Security Council to Condemn North Korea Rocket Launch Monday


The United Nations Security Council is set to adopt a unanimous statement as early as Monday, condemning North Korea's rocket launch last Sunday and ordering it to comply with existing council resolutions or face further sanctions.

In a rare Saturday session of the 15-member Security Council, diplomats were presented a draft statement drawn up by the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Japan that clearly condemns North Korea's April 5 launch of a rocket that flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean, and demands that Pyongyang not conduct any further launch.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who presented the draft to the rest of the council on behalf of the P5 and Japan, told reporters after their consultations that she believes the statement is very strong and sends a clear and unified message to North Korea that violations of international law will not be treated with impunity and will carry consequences.

Ambassador Rice stated, "the draft that has been shared clearly and unequivocally condemns the launch of April 5; it makes it plain that this launch contravenes Security Council resolution 1718. It demands that the DPRK not conduct any further launch and it calls upon the DPRK as well as all member states to fully implement their obligations under 1718."

Ambassador Rice said the statement also raises the possibility of additional sanctions against North Korea if it does not comply. "And it [the draft] decides that there will be additional strengthening of the measures contained in 1718 through the designation of entities and additional goods - the entities once designated would be subject to an asset freeze, and the goods would be prohibited to be transferred to or from the DPRK," she continuted.

The draft statement, which council members are now sharing with their governments, also calls for the resumption of Six Party Talks.

Agreement among the P5 and Japan on the format and language of the response came during a two-hour long meeting Saturday morning, that finally ended a week of deadlock on how the council should respond.

Japan has been a driving force behind the Security Council's response to North Korea, and Ambassador Yukio Takasu said that his government is very satisfied with the draft statement, even though Tokyo had pressed very strongly for a resolution.

"Japan's strong preference was a resolution, but as I say, equally important is unity. And I think unity of the council should be lost if we insisted on that. That's why we have accepted this very strong presidential statement," commented Ambasador Takasu.

Council President for the month of April, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, told reporters that the draft forms the basis for a consensual and clear message of the council and he expects it will be adopted Monday when the council plans to meet again.

North Korea launched the rocket last Sunday, despite international diplomatic efforts to persuade it not to. Several countries, including the United States, believe the test rocket was a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test.

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