US Ambassador Samantha Power predicted that the Security Council will swiftly condemn North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches following an emergency meeting of the UN’s most powerful body. Power told reporters after the closed meeting on Wednesday there were “strong condemnations across the board” from all 15 council members, which she found encouraging.
Her assessment was echoed by Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho, who said he was heartened by the “many messages of solidarity” after his appeal to the council to be united and send a strong message to the world and especially to North Korea that its actions are “totally unacceptable.”
No date was announced for a follow-up meeting of council members or experts, but Bessho said he hopes for council action as soon as possible. South Korean and Japanese officials said a medium-range ballistic missile fired Wednesday flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and landed near Japan’s territorial waters, one of the longest flights by a North Korean missile. It was the first time a missile landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from shore.
The US Strategic Command said initial indications were that a second missile exploded immediately after launch. South Korea’s UN Ambassador Oh Joon said so far this year North Korea has conducted 13 rounds of missile tests including the firing of 29 missiles of different varieties, ranges and trajectories using mobile launchers and submarines.
“They are doing all of this with a systematic, comprehensive purpose of upgrading and refining their missile technologies, which is not only a grave challenge to the global nonproliferation system but also poses a clear and present danger to the security of all countries in the region,” he said. “It is definitely in the interest of all countries to stop this dangerous series of provocations immediately,” Oh stressed.
The ballistic missile launches on Wednesday were the third since the United States and South Korea announced plans on July 8 to deploy an advanced missile defense system in South Korea by the end of 2017 a move Pyongyang has denounced. The council has condemned six other launches in April, May and June.
The Security Council has not responded to a July 9 failed attempt by a North Korean submarine to launch a ballistic missile and the July 19 launch of two short-range Scud missiles and a Rodong intermediate-range missile. UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said attempts to condemn the launches have been held up by China.
China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters that “the situation is tense and we need to do everything to de-escalate the situation.”