Asia

UN 'deplores' North Korea botched rocket launch

  • 13 April 2012
  • From the section Asia
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The UN Security Council has deplored the launch by North Korea of a rocket which broke up shortly after take-off.

A statement issued after closed-door talks said the launch was in breach of two Security Council resolutions.

Consultations on an appropriate response would continue, "given the urgency of the matter", it continued.

In an unusual step, the North admitted the launch of the satellite had failed, and went ahead with planned celebrations in Pyongyang.

The UN statement, read by the current Security Council chair, US ambassador Susan Rice, said the launch broke UNSC resolutions 1718 and 1874.

They imposed tough sanctions against North Korea following earlier rocket launches in 2006 an 2009.

Ms Rice would not say what sort of response they were considering. But she added: "We think a credible reaction is important."

But Aidan Foster-Carter, Korea analyst at Leeds University, said he found the prospect of more international action "a bit dreary".

Food aid cancelled

"I wish we could find a way not to paint North Korea further into the corner they're busy painting themselves into," he told the BBC. "We need to engage with them and draw them out but they have again made that harder."

Earlier, Washington accused the communist state of threatening regional security. It said North Korea had isolated itself still further from the outside world.

The US has also cancelled a proposed food aid deal with Pyongyang.

A US National Security Council spokesman said they would look at additional sanctions if Pyongyang continued its "provocations".

In February, North Korea agreed to a partial freeze in nuclear activities and a missile test moratorium in return for US food aid.

Washington suspended the deal when the missile launch was announced last month.

'Provocative acts'

The official reason for the launch had been to put a satellite into orbit in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the state's founder, Kim Il-sung.

Kim Jong-un, his grandson, led tens of thousands of people in lavish celebrations in central Pyongyang at which giant statues were unveiled to both his grandfather and his late father, Kim Jong-il.

Many outside the country saw the launch as an illegal test of long-range missile technology.

North Korea fired the Unha-3 rocket around 07:40 local time (22:40 GMT Thursday) from a site in Cholsan County on the western coast, according to South Korean and US monitors.

It disintegrated after a minute or two, falling into waters 165km (105 miles) west of the South Korean capital, Seoul, the monitors said.

"North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan accused the North of a "clear breach of the UN resolution that prohibits any launch using ballistic missile technology".

China and Russia, North Korea's closest allies, called for a resumption of the stalled multi-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme.

'With our lives'

Confirming the rocket failure, North Korea's state news agency KCNA said briefly: "The Earth observation satellite failed to enter its pre-set orbit.

"Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure."

In Pyongyang, events to cement Kim Jong-un's assumption of power after the death of his father in December continued on Friday with a special session of the supreme people's assembly (parliament).

The assembly appointed Mr Kim, 29, as "first chairman" of the country's top decision-making body, the National Defence Commission.

At the same time, his late father was made the commission's "eternal chairman".

Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the Museum of Revolutionary Struggle on Mansu Hill to see the statues being unveiled.

"All party members and troops should hold the respected comrade Kim Jong-un in high esteem... and protect him with our lives under any circumstances," North Korea's ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, told the crowd.

The monuments to the former leaders replace a single statue of Kim Il-sung which previously occupied the site.