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UN Chief Urges North Korea Not to Launch Rocket

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, April 12, 2012.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, April 12, 2012.
Lisa Schlein

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging North Korea to heed the call of the International community and stop its plan for the imminent launch of a rocket carrying a satellite into Earth orbit. However, even Ban indicates he does not expect his appeal to have much effect. 

The U.N. chief says North Korea should not ignore the international community’s clear and unanimous message that the planned launch of a long-range missile with a satellite payload is totally unacceptable. Ban warns this will further raise tensions in northeast Asia and negatively affect Pyongyang's relations with its neighbors.

Answering a question from a VOA reporter, the secretary-general said there are strong indications that North Korea will ignore his and all other warnings and go ahead with the rocket launch. If or when that happens, he says, Pyongyang will clearly be in violation of Security Council Resolution 1874.

“It seems to me that considering what they have taken measures until today - by inviting foreign journalists, showing their launching pad - that they may proceed, unfortunately," he said. "There were many countries in the region to have exercised their influence over [North Korean] authorities not to go ahead.” 

The official account from Pyongyang says the North Korean rocket will carry an observation satellite into orbit as part of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the communist state, Kim il-sung.

The United States, Japan and other nations believe the real purpose of the mission is to test-fire a ballistic missile that could be used in the future to deliver a nuclear warhead.  Even China, North Korea’s ally, has called on the regime in Pyongyang to exercise restraint.

Ban says the way in which North Korea has disregarded all the warnings is a matter of great concern, and it will only prompt North Korea's opponents to press for further action by the United Nations. 

“There are already a Security Council resolution, a sanction resolution [aimed at reining in North Korea], and I sincerely hope that DPRK will really take reasonable action, becoming a reasonable, responsible member of the international community," said Ban. "If and when the DPRK launches this - what they say [is a] satellite or missile - then I believe that member states will bring this matter to the Security Council.”

Turning to another world crisis, Ban said the situation in Syria appears to become calmer since a cease-fire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan went into effect Thursday morning. However, he adds, the world is watching events on the ground skeptically, since the Syrian government has broken many promises in the past.

Ban says the Damascus government must prove its words are matched by deeds.

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