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UNSC weighs condemnation following latest North Korean missile test in Sea of Japan

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

The U.N. Security Council met for two hours Wednesday to discuss North Korea’s test-firing of a missile from a submarine toward Japan and agreed to consider a statement condemning the launch.

“There was a general sense of condemnation by most members of the council and therefore we will have to see how we would then be phrasing the press statement,” said Malaysian Ambassador Ramlan bin Ibrahim, who holds this month’s council presidency.

The council held the urgent consultations on the latest test-firing, at the request of the United States and Japan.

“What this is demonstrating is, yet again, that the DPRK is prepared to flout Security Council resolutions, which poses a big threat to regional peace and security, and global peace and security,” British Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson told reporters.

“We unreservedly condemn this kind of action by the DPRK,” he said, referring to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Earlier this month, North Korea fired a land-launched ballistic missile directly into Japanese-controlled waters for the first time, drawing an outraged response from Tokyo.

But the council failed to condemn that launch, on Aug. 2, after China sought to include language in a statement opposing the THAAD missile defense system that the United States plans to deploy in South Korea.

The Malaysian ambassador said the United States will soon circulate a draft statement to the 14 other council members.

Diplomats expected further haggling with China, Pyongyang’s main ally, over the wording of the statement.

After the closed-door meeting concluded, Japanese Deputy Ambassador Yoshifumi Okamura and Deputy U.S. Ambassador Michele Sison did not field questions nor did the American or Japanese representatives issue a joint statement.

“What we need now is a quick and firm reaction by the Security Council,” French Deputy Ambassador Alexis Lamek told reporters.

“It is necessary, when it comes to issues of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we cannot afford to be weak.”

While no Chinese representative spoke to the press, Russian Deputy Ambassador Peter Iliichev described the meeting as a “usual discussion” that addressed the violations of past resolutions and looked at “finding the way for stabilization” as well as a “diplomatic, political solution to the problem.”

North Korea is barred under U.N. resolutions from any use of ballistic-missile technology, but Pyongyang has carried out several launches following its fourth nuclear test in January.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the latest launch as “deeply troubling” and said North Korea had acted “in defiance of the united call of the international community to reverse its course.”

“Not only are such actions a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, but they also undermine peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula,” Ban’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.

South Korea’s military said the missile, launched in the early morning from a submarine in the Sea of Japan flew about 500 km (over 300 miles) — a substantial improvement on similar tests in the past.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the missile breached Japan’s air defense identification zone and condemned what he called an “unforgivable, reckless act” and a grave threat to Japan’s security.

North Korea has been hit by five sets of U.N. sanctions since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006.