News

UN Chief Warns North Korea About Rocket Launch

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (file photo)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (file photo)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging North Korea to heed the call of the international community by canceling an upcoming rocket launch.

Ban spoke Thursday in Geneva, as North Korean engineers prepared to launch a rocket that Pyongyang says will carry a weather satellite into space.  Western nations and regional neighbors accuse the North of using the launch as a ploy to test a ballistic missile that could later be fitted with a nuclear warhead.

The U.N. chief repeated warnings that the launch, which is set to take place sometime between Thursday and Monday, will raise tensions in the region.  He also said it "clearly" violates a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at reining in North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Meanwhile, military forces in South Korea and Japan were on high alert Thursday on what the North says is the first day of a five-day window for the launch.

Any plans for a Thursday launch dimmed by mid-day with no sign of new activity at the launch pad outside a cloud-covered Pyongyang.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda repeated his nation's appeal for Pyongyang to cancel the launch but said Japanese forces are ready to shoot the rocket down if it strays over Japanese territory.

"In case it happens, we are on full alert. Up to the last minute, we urge North Korea to refrain from launching," said Noda.

South Korea has also put its forces on heightened alert and threatened to shoot down the rocket if it appears likely to crash into South Korean territory. The Philippines, located near the planned splashdown site of the rocket's first stage, has diverted airline flights and ordered fishermen to avoid the area.

Paek Chang Ho, chief of North Korea's launch command center, told reporters Wednesday that fuel was being loaded into the rocket in one of the final steps before launch. The journalists, including a reporter with VOA's Korean service, were able to view the activity by video, which was fed live to the remote command center.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the launch has raised doubts about North Korea's claims that it wants to improve ties with its neighbors and the United States.

U.S. officials fear that Pyongyang may be planning to follow the launch with what would be its third underground nuclear weapons test. Satellite intelligence photographs made available to VOA and other news organizations this week show evidence of preparations for such a test.

North Korea's launch plan has derailed a recent agreement with the United States, under which Pyongyang agreed to suspend its nuclear weapons and missile programs. The United States was to have delivered 240,000 tons of badly needed food aid to the North.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs