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UN Security Council Condemns North Korea Rocket Launch

The rocket Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, is monitored on a large screen at a satellite control center in North Korea on December 12.
The rocket Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, is monitored on a large screen at a satellite control center in North Korea on December 12.
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By RFE/RL
UNITED NATIONS -- The UN Security Council has condemned North Korea's rocket launch, after the isolated nation broke international law and UN sanctions by launching what Pyongyang says is a weather satellite into orbit.

The United States, South Korea, and Japan say North Korea's rocket launches are tests in developing nuclear technology.

Speaking after a closed meeting on December 12, Moroccan Ambassador and current Security Council President Mohammed Loulichk told reporters the launch "is in clear violation of council resolutions" and the council would continue consultations "on an appropriate response."

North Korea is banned from developing nuclear and missile-related technology under UN resolutions.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters that further talks on the issue would produce stronger action.

"Now we go into the second phase, as we have in the past, where the negotiations begin among council members, particularly those with an interest in this topic, and we will approach those as we have in the past with a clear set of objectives," Rice said.

"But our objective is that this be a clear and meaningful response by the Security Council consistent with the last presidential statement which said there would be appropriate further action."

Rice was referring to a presidential statement she read out after North Korea's failed rocket launch in April.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud reportedly told journalists outside the council that a resolution could be the next action.

A senior Western diplomat also told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the United States, European states, Japan, and South Korea were among the countries that would like to see a resolution expanding sanctions against the regime passed.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei cautioned in Beijing that the council's response should be "prudent and moderate and conducive to maintaining stability and avoiding escalation of the situation."

South Korean Ambassador to the UN Kim Sook, who attended the meeting but said he was not involved in negotiations, still expressed hope for further action.

"As the [Security Council] president has mentioned, this is our preliminary consultation today," Kim said. "This process will continue and I believe the Security Council will take appropriate action in [a] swift and robust manner."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier issued a statement "deploring" the latest move as a violation of UN sanctions.

The latest launch is also seen as a further sign that Kim Jong Un, the head of state who took power a year ago, is continuing his late father Kim Jong Il's military policies.

The three-stage rocket was launched from a site on North Korea's west coast.

"The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province, by carrier rocket Unha-3 on December 12," a news reader on state-run North Korean television announced shortly afterward. "The satellite entered its present orbit."

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) confirmed that North Korea "deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit."

NORAD said the first stage of the rocket fell into the Yellow Sea and the second stage into the Philippine Sea.

With reporting by Reuters

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