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UN condemns North Korean missile launches; Obama pushes sanctions

This undated picture released from North Korea's official

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Sept. 6, 2016, shows the fire drill of ballistic rockets by Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force at an undisclosed location in North Korea. Credit: AFP / Getty Images

UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council condemned North Korea’s launching of three ballistic missiles as President Barack Obama called on the world body Tuesday to tighten sanctions and further isolate a nation widely viewed as an international pariah.

“The members of the Security Council deplore all Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ballistic missile activities, including these launches, noting that such activities contribute to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s development of nuclear weapons delivery systems and increase tension,” the 15-member Security Council said in a news statement Tuesday afternoon after consultations.

The statement noted that President Kim Jong Un implemented the launch despite Security Council condemnations of launches between April and August, diverting resources from a country with “great unmet needs.”

Obama, in Laos for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said he would ask the council to reach agreement on further sanctions.

“We are going to work diligently together with the most recent UN sanctions,” Obama told reporters after meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. “We’re going to work together to make sure we’re closing loopholes and make them even more effective.”

The statements by Obama and other world leaders come as North Korea fired three ballistic missiles off its east coast Monday, seen as a provocation and show of force that was carefully timed to irk world leaders visiting the region for the Group of 20 economic summit in China and the ASEAN meeting in Laos.

In New York, Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said the United States, Japan and South Korea called a Security Council meeting after the medium-range missiles were fired almost simultaneously, traveled about 600 miles and landed within 200 miles of Japan’s coast.

“With each test, each violation of UNSC resolutions, and there have been 22 of them so far this year, the DPRK demonstrates further advancement of its ballistic missile program,” she said, flanked by the Japanese and South Korean ambassadors, Koro Bessho and Hahn Choong-hee, respectively ,outside the Security Council chamber.

“All members recognize these launches as blatant violations of the Security Council resolutions and other commitments by North Korea and they all opposed, condemned the launch in very strong terms,” Bessho said.

Hahn said: “The fact that the North Korean regime is using considerable amounts of their national resources to the development of weapons of mass destruction will sacrifice the living conditions and basic need and humanitarian situation of North Korean people.”

Power added that she didn’t anticipate disagreement in the Council since it was able to reach consensus on previous resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea.

“Once the DPRK has the capability to do so, we know what they intend to do with these missile systems, because they have told us,” Power said. “They are explicit. They intend to arm the systems with nuclear weapons. Kim Jong Un said this himself yesterday, according to the DPRK’s official news agency.”

North Korean officials could not be reached for comment.

The White House noted the United States remains committed to moving ahead with the planned deployment of a major anti-missile system in South Korea. China has urged South Korea and the United States to scrap the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, saying it is meant to spy on China.

Still, Obama said he was open to dialogue with North Korea.

“If it is willing to recognize its international obligations and enforce the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the opportunities for us to dialogue with them are there,” he said. “We do not have any interest in an offensive approach to North Korea.”

With AP


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