The United Nations Security Council has condemned North Korea’s test-firing of two medium-range ballistic missiles as violations of council resolutions.
The council met Thursday evening after the United States asked for an urgent meeting. It was unclear what kind of response the US was seeking, but Ambassador Samantha Power walked out with no comment to reporters, the Associated Press news agency reported.
“Members of the Security Council condemned this launch as a violation of Security Council resolution(s),” Luxembourg’s UN Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, president of the 15-nation Security Council for the month of March, said.
“Council members agreed to consult on an appropriate response.”
“There was unanimous condemnation of the launches,” Lucas told journalists, adding that, “We also all agreed that this response should be given quickly.”
The launch of the Rodong missiles on Wednesday – for the first time since 2009 – violates UN resolutions banning ballistic missile launches and marks a major escalation from a series of shorter-range rocket launches the North has staged in recent weeks to protest annual military drills by the US and South Korea.
Several council diplomats said negotiations on possible council action would likely continue into next week, the Reuters news agency reported.
There is a possibility, the diplomats said, of the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee expanding the current UN blacklist to include additional North Korean entities involved in Pyongyang’s missile program. But they said it could take weeks to reach agreement.
“That (expanding the blacklist) would be an appropriate response by the council,” a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “The first step will be some kind of more formal statement condemning the launch.”
The ability of the council to take such steps will depend on China, a veto-wielding council member and North Korea’s traditional ally and most significant trading partner. Beijing issued a muted response to the North Korean launch on Thursday.
“In the present situation, all sides ought to dedicate themselves to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular briefing.
During Thursday’s closed-door council session in New York, Beijing’s delegation reiterated that the Chinese wanted de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and to resume stalled six-party aid-for-disarmament talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, a Western diplomat said.