SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s long-range rocket launch Sunday, vowing to “expeditiously adopt a new resolution” with significant measures and calling the launch a “dangerous and serious violation.”
“The members of the Security Council strongly condemn this launch,” Venezuelan U.N. Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, the council’s president for February, told reporters while reading a press statement after the closed-door meeting.
“The members of the Security Council underscore this launch as well as any other DPRK launch that use ballistic missile technology even if characterized as a satellite launch or a space launch vehicle contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear weapon delivery system and is a serious violation of the Security Council resolutions,” he said.
The Security Council also noted its intent to develop “significant measures” in a new resolution in response to the North’s latest nuclear test while also recalling previous warnings that it would take “future significant measures” in the event of another DPRK launch.
“In line with this commitment and the gravity of this most recent violation, the council will adopt expeditiously a new security council resolution with such measures in response to this dangerous and serious violation,” the council president said.
The council also expressed its commitment to continue working toward a “peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation leading to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the ambassador said.
The meeting was convened less than a day after the North defied international warnings and carried out the rocket launch in violation of U.N. resolutions. Right after the launch, South Korea, the United States and Japan jointly requested an emergency council meeting.
The launch came as the U.N. Security Council has been struggling in negotiations to put together a new resolution imposing sanctions on Pyongyang for the nuclear test because China has been reluctant to impose harsh measures on its communist neighbor.
The rocket launch is expected to help break the deadlock as China would find it difficult to oppose tough measures any longer, analysts said. China’s cooperation is key to any sanctions resolution because it’s a veto-holding permanent member.
“We are hopeful that China, like all council members, will see the grave threat to regional, international peace and security, see the importance of adopting tough, unprecedented measures, breaking new ground,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.S. Samantha Power told reporters.
She also said she will ensure the Security Council imposes serious consequences on the North.
“DPRK’s latest transgressions require our response to be even firmer,” she said.
Sunday’s launch was successful as the rocket put what Pyongyang claims was a satellite into orbit.
It represented the North’s sixth long-range rocket or missile launch since 1998 and once again demonstrated that Pyongyang is making steady progress in its efforts to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
North Korea says its rocket launches are aimed at putting satellites into orbit, claiming it has the right to the peaceful use of space. But Pyongyang is banned from such launches under U.N. Security Council resolutions as it has been accused of using them as a cover for testing intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Experts say long-range rockets and ICBMs are basically the same, differing only in payload.
So far, the Security Council has adopted six resolutions, six presidential statements and two press statements with regard to the North’s nuclear and missile program. Of the six resolutions, four included sanctions on the isolated nation.
A new sanctions resolution is expected to be much tougher than the previous ones.
“I understand that there was a consensus on the need to put together a sanctions resolution, which has been under discussions since the nuclear test, at an early date and with stronger content,” South Korean Ambassador to the U.N. Oh Joon said.
“Existing Security Council sanctions on North Korea are mostly related directly to weapons,” Oh said. “I think most Security Council members think that it’s time for powerful sanctions that go beyond that, now that it’s obvious they were unable to stop North Korea’s weapons development.”