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Security Council to debate North Korea missile launches

The UN Security Council is set to discuss North Korea's latest missile launches as a North Korean ship suspected of carrying a banned arms cargo was expected to return home.

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AFP - The UN Security Council will meet later Monday at Japan's request to discuss the latest North Korean missile launches, a spokesman said.

The meeting will take place at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT), said Arthur Kafeero, a spokesman for Ugandan Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda, who holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member council this month.

North Korea test-fired seven missiles off its east coast Saturday, according to South Korean officials.

The ballistic missiles -- which the Stalinist state is banned from firing under UN resolutions -- were launched into the Sea of Japan in an act of defiance apparently timed for the US Independence Day holiday.

It was the biggest salvo of ballistic weaponry since the North fired a long-range Taepodong-2 and six smaller missiles in 2006, also on July 4.

The launches came as Washington seeks support for tough enforcement of UN sanctions aimed at shutting down Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.

Sunday, North Korea's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun praised Pyongyang's "army-first policy", which gave North Korea the capacity to hit enemies with what it called a "merciless" strike.

Last month, the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions against North Korea, banning all weapons exports from the country and the import of all but small arms.

Reacting to North Korea's second underground nuclear test in May, the council also called on all members of the international community to stop and search North Korean ships for weapons.
 

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