UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council ordered expanded sanctions on Tuesday against North Korea for a banned rocket launch, triggering a defiant pledge by Pyongyang to bolster its nuclear deterrent.
The Security Council added North Korea’s state space agency, a bank, four trading companies and four individuals to the UN sanctions list, and threatened “significant action” if the North stages a nuclear test. The resolution, proposed by the United States, was passed unanimously by the 15-nation council, including North Korea’s only major ally, China.
Pyongyang insists its Dec.12 rocket launch was a peaceful, scientific mission aimed at putting a satellite in space.
The UN resolution condemned it as a disguised ballistic missile test that violated existing sanctions imposed after the North’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
US Ambassador Susan Rice said the resolution was a sign that North Korea will have “an increasingly steep price” to pay if it chooses confrontation.
China’s UN envoy Li Baodong stressed that sanctions alone would fail unless they were supplemented by a concerted diplomatic effort to engage Pyongyang in negotiations.
The Security Council demanded that the North suspend “all activities related to its ballistic missile programme” and “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”
It also expressed “its determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK (North Korea) launch or nuclear test.”
The Korean Committee for Space Technology, the government agency that organised last month’s rocket launch, topped the list of new bodies sanctioned.
“This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation” of previous resolutions, Rice told reporters.
North Korea’s foreign ministry quickly slammed the council and hinted that a new nuclear test could be planned.
“We flatly reject and condemn the UN Security Council’s extremely unfair resolution,” said a ministry statement.
“We will take physical actions aimed at expanding and strengthening our self-defensive military forces, including nuclear deterrence.”
China’s Li said that despite his country’s support for the resolution, the Council had to be “prudent, measured, proportionate, conducive to peace and stability,” urging new efforts to “avoid the escalation of tension.”
China has been trying to revive moribund six-nation talks on the North’s nuclear program.
But North Korea’s foreign ministry said there would be “no dialogue to discuss denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”
South Korea, a temporary member of the council since Jan.1, welcomed the resolution, as did Japan and UN leader Ban Ki-moon.
Japan is to launch a new spy satellite on Sunday to strengthen its monitoring capabilities amid concern that North Korea may carry out more missile and nuclear tests, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced on Wednesday.
A rocket carrying a radar-equipped satellite is scheduled to blast off from a space centre at Tanegashima in the southwest, agency said.
The space agency said the satellite would be used for information-gathering, including data following Japan’s 2011 quake and tsunami, but did not mention North Korea by name.