UN to accelerate N Korea sanctions after 'outrageous' missile launch
The UN Security Council has vowed to impose "serious" new sanctions on North Korea after the secretive country launched another missile test which was described as an "outrageous provocation".
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned this launch," said Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, president of the UN Security Council. He said the launch was "a serious violation."
He added that the 15-nation council "restated their intent to develop significant measures in a new Security Council resolution in response to the nuclear test" in January, as well as yesterday's rocket launch.
Standing alongside her Japanese and South Korean counterparts, US Ambassador Samantha Power said: "We will ensure that the Security Council imposes serious consequences. DPRK's (North Korea) latest transgressions require our response to be even firmer."
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan added his voice to the global expressions of condemnation.
Mr Flanagan described the move by Pyongyang as irresponsible and a serious threat to peace.
France's UN ambassador, Francois Delattre, said the launch was an "outrageous provocation".
North Korea has been under UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006. It has conducted three more atomic tests since then, including the one last month, along with numerous ballistic missile launches.
The sanctions ban its work in nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, blacklist a number of individuals and entities, and bar the country's leadership from importing luxury goods.
The US and China began discussing a resolution to expand the existing sanctions after Pyongyang's atom bomb test on January 6. Ms Power said she hoped the council would have a draft resolution to vote on "as quickly as possible".
"It is urgent and overdue," she said.
"We are hopeful that China, like all council members, will see the grave threat to regional, international peace and security, see the importance of adopting tough, unprecedented measures, breaking new ground."
Diplomats say Washington is closely consulting with Japan, South Korea, Britain and France on its discussions with China, while Beijing is keeping in close contact with fellow veto power Russia. Japanese Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa said the draft under discussion would have "much more strengthened measures" against Pyongyang.
One senior Western diplomat said it was hoped the council would be able to vote on a new sanctions resolution this month. He said the Americans had been pushing for tough new measures that went beyond targeting North Korea's atomic weapons and missile programmes, while China wanted any future steps to focus on the question of non-proliferation.
China expressed regret and concern over yesterday's rocket launch, which employed ballistic missile technology. China is North Korea's main ally but it disapproves of its nuclear weapons programme.