UN Security Council to act on North Korea missile launch
Held back from stronger steps by China and Russia, the United Nations Security Council was preparing later Monday to consider chastising North Korea for its rocket launch earlier this month.
China and Russia, which have veto power on the council, had objected to a harsher reaction in the form of more sanctions as suggested by Japan and the United States, citing their concern that it would undermine the six-party talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear programme.
After a week of wrestling over the reaction, the five veto wielding powers including the US, France and Britain agreed Saturday on the wording of a so-called "presidential statement" now before the council for action.
To go into effect, passage must be unanimous among all 15 council members. The statement would threaten more sanctions in the event of another rocket launch, dpa reported.
In Washington Monday, the US State Department spokesman said the measure would be legally binding and send a "very strong and coordinated message" to the North Koreans that "this type of activity cannot happen again, mustn't happen again."
"And we are going to ... continue to encourage the North to come back to the six-party framework so that we can go forward and address the issue of denuclearization of the peninsula," said Robert Wood.
Tokyo requested the emergency Security Council sessions after Pyonyang sent a Taepodong missile over Japanese territory that fell into the Pacific Ocean on April 5, according to US and Japanese officials. North Korea insists it put a satellite into orbit, but no evidence of the orbiter has been found.
The Security Council in 2006 forbade North Korea to test ballistic missiles after it tested a nuclear bomb, and also issued sanctions against the hardline communist-governed country. The council feared the missiles could be used to deliver a nuclear bomb.
North Korea has played an on-again off-again game during years of talks with the international community, moving to dismantle its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, then threatening to reassemble it.
The statement, agreed on in a rare Saturday session of the 15- member council, would find that the firing of the missile violated the 2006 resolution and order North Korea to comply or face further sanctions. It would also instruct a special committee to draw up a list of entities and people that would face sanctions.
On Saturday, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the draft statement makes it plain that the launch contravenes a council resolution from 2006 that banned Pyongyang from testing missiles.