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UN Security Council Rips North Korea Missile Test, Threatens New Sanctions

  • Margaret Besheer

FILE - U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and other members meet at the United Nations headquarters in New York, April 12, 2017.

The U.N. Security Council is set to hold a closed-door meeting Tuesday on North Korea's latest missile test, a day after condemning the launch and threatening to impose new sanctions.

The council signaled Monday it was ready to act against North Korea because of its "flagrant and provocative defiance" of earlier demands to end all nuclear testing.

In a unanimous statement backed by China, the council voiced "utmost concern" about Sunday's launch, described by Pyongyang as a mid-to-long range missile that traveled 787 kilometers before plunging into the Sea of Japan.

The council statement called the launch "highly destabilizing behavior" that "is greatly increasing tension in the [East Asia] region and beyond." It further called on all countries to implement the six North Korean sanctions resolutions already adopted by the world body "in an expeditious and serious manner."

FILE - South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In speaks at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.
FILE - South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In speaks at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

Earlier Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he is sending special envoys around the world in a push to strengthen Seoul's global ties in the wake of the launch. The presidency said the envoys will meet with high ranking officials to exchange ideas and explain the new South Korean government's policy plans.

North Korea boasted early Monday that the latest launch was personally supervised by leader Kim Jong Un. The official North Korean news agency KCNA said the launch aimed at showing the technical capability to carry a "large scale heavy nuclear warhead."

KCNA also quoted Kim as accusing the United States of "browbeating" countries that "have no nukes," and said Kim warned Washington "not to misjudge the reality that its mainland is in the North's "sighting range for [a] strike."

International reaction

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday the test was "absolutely unacceptable" and represented "a significant threat" to Japan and the U.S. He spoke after meeting with the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris.

A White House statement said the test should “serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.”

FILE - United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters outside the General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.
FILE - United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters outside the General Assembly at U.N. headquarters.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday it is time for many nations to "send a strong, unified message that this is unacceptable, and I think you'll see the international community do that." She said the United States will continue to "tighten the screws" against Pyongyang.

U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this month he would be "honored" to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "under the right circumstances," but Haley said that "having a missile test is not the way to sit down with the president, because he's absolutely not going to do it."

Russian President Vladimir Putin called North Korea's latest missile test "counter-productive, harmful and dangerous."

Speaking Monday in Beijing, Putin said, "We are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers." He also urged other world leaders to "stop intimidating North Korea and find a peaceful solution to the problem."

This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT on May 15, 2017, shows what was said to be the launch of the Hwasong-12 missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
This image made from video of a news bulletin aired by North Korea's KRT on May 15, 2017, shows what was said to be the launch of the Hwasong-12 missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea.

History of defiance

Pyongyang conducted two unauthorized nuclear test explosions last year and about two dozen rocket launches, in a years-long push to expand its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities.

North Korean leader Kim declared in a speech on New Year's Day that his country's program to build inter-continental ballistic missiles had "reached its final stage.

Pyongyang has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006, along with an international arms embargo aimed at slowing the development of its banned nuclear and missile programs.

Since then, Washington and a host of world governments have repeatedly demanded that the North denuclearize the Korean peninsula. World leaders, however, have yet to devise a plan that would either compel the North to cooperate or create incentives for it to do so.

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