• Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Report

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North Korea could face new sanctions if it launches a long-range ballistic missile in violation of a 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution, even though Pyongyang is claiming it only plans to put a satellite in space, Prime Minister Taro Aso indicated Monday.

Asked if the government will consider additional steps against Pyongyang if it launches a ballistic missile, Aso said, “We have the experience” of imposing sanctions when North Korea launched missiles in July 2006.

“The matter will be discussed at the U.N. Security Council,” Aso added.

Japanese sanctions against North Korea, mainly economic ones, remain in place after they were imposed in 2006 following Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests.

The sanctions ban bilateral trade as well as entry into Japan’s ports by North Korean vessels. North Korean nationals are essentially banned from entering Japan.

According to the Foreign Ministry, these steps, whose duration lasts half a year, have been extended by the government every six months since October 2006. The current sanctions expire April 13. Thus the nature of any new sanctions remains undecided. They could be totally new or additions to the existing measures.

North Korea has said it is ready to launch an experimental communications satellite, sparking concerns it may be preparing to test-fire an improved version of its Taepodong-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile.

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