UN Security Council condemns rocket launch

The UN Security Council has formally condemned North Korea's April 5 long-range rocket launch in a non-binding statement that finds Pyongyang "in contravention" of Security Council resolution 1718, which bars it from missile-related activities.


AFP - The UN Security Council on Monday unanimously condemned North Korea for its long-range rocket launch and agreed to tighten existing sanctions against Pyongyang.

All 15 members endorsed the compromise text which was agreed by six major powers Saturday in response to North Korea's April 5 launch over Japan.

The text, proposed to the full council Saturday by its five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Japan,  falls short of the tougher stance which Tokyo had sought in response to the North Korea's April 5 launch.

Backed by the United States and its European allies, Japan had pressed for a resolution, which carries more weight, but veto-wielding China and Russia balked and urged restraint so as not to harm prospects for resuming the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

The non-binding statement, however, clearly "condemns" North Korea's launch of a three-stage Taepodong-2 rocket over Japan, saying it was "in contravention" of Security Council resolution 1718, which barred Pyongyang from conducting missile-related activities.

Mexico's UN Ambassador Claude Heller, the council chair this month, told reporters after the session that although the text was not a resolution, it included "a clear condemnation" of the North Korean launch and "shows the unity of the Security Council."

France's UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert also said the unanimous adoption "is very important for the signal we are sending" to Pyongyang.

The statement "demands that the DPRK not conduct any further launch."

It "agrees to adjust the measures imposed" in Resolution 1718 to include a tightening of existing sanctions against designated North Korean entities.

It said it would designate entities to be subjected to an asset freeze by April 30 and goods that would be banned from transfer to or from North Korea.

The statement gave no details of the list of entities and goods involved, with Heller saying this would have to be worked out by a council sanctions panel.

The statement calls all member states "to comply fully with their obligations under Resolution 1718."

That resolution, adopted in 2006 after North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, also demanded that North Korea dismantle its nuclear weapons program,  abandon all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, and provided for a travel ban on officials working on such programs.

It further called for a ban targeting exports of missiles, tanks, large artillery systems, warships and combat aircraft to North Korea and permitted inspection of cargo to and from North Korea to prevent any illegal trafficking.

Resolution 1718 also provided for the creation of a Security Council panel to monitor those sanctions, but the commission was never activated so as not to jeopardize the six-party talks.

North Korea has insisted that its rocket launched put into orbit a communications satellite which is beaming back patriotic songs.

South Korea, Japan and the US military, however, say there is no sign of the object in space and that the launch was in any case a disguised long-range missile test in violation of UN resolutions.

The proposed statement also calls for the "early resumption" of the six-party talks.

The talks, hosted by China and including the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia, have been stalled since December last year after Pyongyang refused to agree on ways of verifying its claims on nuclear disarmament moves.

The statement further urges "a peaceful and diplomatic solution and welcomes efforts by council members as well as other member states to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue."

Charles Pritchard, a US negotiator with North Korea under George Bush, said he expected the Barack Obama administration to take a broader approach to North Korea that does not get so tied down to the intractable nuclear issue.

"I can expect that the discussion -- whether in the six-party talks or bilaterally -- will be on an expanded agenda, one which looks at proliferation as a formal discussion topic," he said.

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