Japan extends North Korea sanctions

Tokyo calls for UN action over rocket launch as Kim Jong-il makes rare appearance.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made a rare public appearance at the country's parliament [EPA]

    The US military has said no satellite entered orbit and that the rocket, along with its payload, crashed into the Pacific ocean, east of Japan.

    Kawamura stressed that Japan saw the launch as a "missile launch" – matching the view held by the US and South Korea that the rocket flight was a cover for a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

    "We assertively say this violation of the UN security council resolutions by North Korea is related to its ballistic missile programme," he said.

    In video


    Watch footage of Kim Jong-il at N Korea assembly
    (Note: no commentary)

    The Japanese announcement came as North Korean state media, continuing to bask in what it has described as an "historic" satellite launch, showed footage of leader Kim Jong-il attending the opening of the country's parliament.

    Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke last August and the footage was his first major public appearance in many months.

    Analysts say he appeared considerably thinner and older than in previous appearances and seemed to walk with a slight limp.

    'Credibility test'

    Japan's extension and escalation of sanctions against the North came as Japanese diplomats at the United Nations struggled to secure a security council resolution on the North Korean launch.

    In depth


     Photo: N Korea's launch site
     Video: N Korea's arsenal
     North Korea: A state of war
     Outcry over N Korea rocket
     Watch N Korea rocket launch

    Negotiations at the UN have been deadlocked for several days, with veto-wielding council members China and Russia favouring a milder, non-binding statement to be read by the council president.

    Stepping up the pressure, Japan's deputy foreign minister said the UN faced a "big test" from the North Korean launch, and called swift action against what he said were "serious violations" of existing resolutions.

    Shintaro Ito said the security council's credibility would become "doubtful" unless it reacted soon and firmly to the North's move.

    On Thursday talks between Japanese diplomats and the five permanent members of security council – Russia, China, France, the UK and the US – broke up without agreement.

    Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, and her Japanese counterpart Yukio Takasu called the meeting "productive", but gave no other details.

    Japan, along with the US and South Korea say North Korea's launch violated a 2006 council resolution banning the firing of missiles and Japan wants a fully-fledged resolution in response.

    But Russia and China say they believe that a launch aimed at putting a satellite into orbit, whether or not it was successful, does not necessarily violate the ban.

    The US, meanwhile, has indicated it might be willing to accept a non-binding statement rather than a resolution, which it fears might take too long if one can be agreed on at all.

    Diplomats say Japan has insisted on getting a fully-fledged resolution, fearing failure to do so would result in heavy criticism at home.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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