The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has strongly condemned the recent series of ballistic missile launches by North Korea, calling them a threat to regional and international security.
In a statement issued after a Friday meeting called by the US, the 15-member council slammed the North’s missile launches as “unacceptable” and urged Pyongyang to comply with Security Council resolutions, which prohibit all ballistic missile activity.
The council held the closed-door meeting after North Korea reportedly fired at least one long-range ballistic missile from a site north of the capital, Pyongyang, which flew about 800 kilometers (500 miles) into the Sea of Japan.
Pyongyang had also fired short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off the country’s east coast on March 10 amid joint annual war games by the US and South Korea. Those launches also draw a wave of international condemnations.
The UNSC further “expressed grave concern” over Pyongyang’s missile tests and “stressed that all these launches were unacceptable.”
The statement also called on all nations to redouble efforts to implement all UN measures against the North, including the new sanctions, which were imposed on Pyongyang latest nuclear test on January 6 as well as a February 7 rocket launch reportedly aimed at placing an earth observation satellite into orbit.
The sanctions, described as toughest ever, target the country’s military, mining, trade and financial sectors.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the firing of missiles on March 18 as “deeply troubling,” urging Pyongyang to halt “these inflammatory and escalatory actions.” He also called on North Korea to comply with the UN resolutions.
Japan’s UN Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa also said the recent missile launches showed Pyongyang had taken the message from the new sanctions resolution “totally wrong,” expressing hope, however, that the international community could unite to force the North to change its policy.
US Ambassador Samantha Power condemned the launches, saying they showed that the North continues to defy international calls for changing its behavior.
Military experts in South Korea said the missiles launched by the North on Friday was of the Rodong type, a scaled-up Scud variant with a maximum range of around 1,300 kilometers (800 miles). They said the missiles were launched from road-mobile vehicles.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the North “appears to be speeding up test launches to advance its nuclear capabilities.”
Relations between North and South Korea have been turbulent for years. Seoul and Pyongyang fought a war in the early 1950s, and have been at odds ever since.
Tensions have escalated further recently following the start of joint military exercises by Washington and Seoul.
North Korea accuses the US of plotting with its regional allies to topple the government in Pyongyang. The country bills its nuclear capabilities as a deterrent against hostile US policies.