Tuesday, July 7, 2009

UN Security Council Condemns NKorea Missiles

The Irrawaddy News

UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council on Monday condemned North Korea's recent firing of seven ballistic missiles on US Independence Day, the reclusive country's biggest display of firepower in three years.

Uganda UN Ambassador Ruhakana Rugunda, who holds the 15-member council's rotating presidency, said the council members "condemned and expressed grave concern" at the missile launches, which violated UN resolutions and "pose a threat to regional and international security." The council will continue to closely monitor the situation and is committed to a "peaceful, diplomatic and political solution," he said.

On Saturday, North Korea fired missiles into the ocean off its east coast in violation of three UN resolutions.

Security Council members agreed that Pyongyang "must comply fully with its obligations" under the resolutions, Rugunda said.

The North's missile tests aggravated tensions that were already high after its May 25 underground nuclear test blast.

The council punished the North after its May nuclear test with a resolution and tough sanctions clamping down on alleged trading of banned arms and weapons-related material, including authorizing searches of suspect ships.

Japan requested Monday's Security Council meeting. Japanese UN Ambassador Yukio Takasu said the council should act "calmly and responsibly" and focus on enforcing existing resolutions.

"Those are very effective measures if everyone implements them," Takasu said.

He said Japan has asked all Southeast Asian nations, except junta-ruled Burma, to enforce the UN's North Korea resolutions. Takasu credited the new resolutions with forcing a North Korean ship suspected of possibly carrying illicit cargo to turn back, saying Pyongyang is "changing its behavior" and is "getting the message."

However, exactly why the ship, Kang Nam 1, turned back or what kind of cargo it carried remains unclear. Some observers have speculated that it was carrying weapons, possibly to Burma, where it has been suspected of transporting banned goods before.

The ship, that has likely returned home, according to South Korean officials, was the first to be monitored under UN Security Council Resolution 1874, passed last month. North Korea has said it would consider interception of its ships an act of war.

Takasu said that while the North's missile explosions were a provocation, the UN must not overreact.

"The Security Council should not be dictated by the pace and timing of the actions of the D.P.R.K (North Korea), we should be in control of the situation," he said. "In other words, we should try to contain the situation and try to diffuse emotional tensions as much as possible."

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