UN to blast North Korea over failed rocket launch

The UN security council has agreed a statement on North Korea’s failed rocket launch which it will release on Monday, diplomats said.

The so-called “presidential statement” was finalised during talks at the weekend between the 15-members of the council.

Unlike resolutions, council statements are not voted on but are adopted unanimously.

The security council initially “deplored” the launch as a breach of UN sanctions resolutions, in the hours after the rocket disintegrated over the Yellow Sea. US ambassador Susan Rice, the council president, said an “appropriate” follow-up response was being negotiated.

“Agreement has now been reached, the presidential statement will come out Monday,” one council diplomat told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

The security council agreed on sanctions against the isolated North in 2006 and 2009 after it staged nuclear weapons tests. There are now fears that the communist state could stage a new nuclear test.

After days of closed-door haggling, the council was hoping to adopt a statement condemning the botched rocket launch and suggesting an expansion of a UN blacklist of North Korean firms and individuals, envoys said.

Failure to launch
Diplomats told Reuters on condition of anonymity that China, North Korea’s closest ally, was pushing for a softer rebuke than the one favoured by the United States, which holds this month’s security council presidency.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, has also deplored the rocket launch.

North Korea admitted its long-range rocket failed to deliver a satellite into orbit on Friday while US and South Korean officials said it crashed into the sea a few minutes after launch.

Diplomats said no council member had pushed the idea of imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang in retaliation for the launch, something China and Russia would have opposed.

But they said the draft statement does urge the security council’s North Korea sanctions committee to consider adding new names to an existing UN blacklist of firms and individuals linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile industries.

US and other Western officials have said the launch violated a UN ban on the use of ballistic missile technology by North Korea.—AFP, Reuters