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UN condemns North Korea launch, warns on nuclear test

Rockets are carried by military vehicles during a military parade to celebrate the centenary of the birth of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012, in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency on April 16, 2012. — Reuters picRockets are carried by military vehicles during a military parade to celebrate the centenary of the birth of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012, in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency on April 16, 2012. — Reuters picNEW YORK, April 16 — The UN Security Council today strongly condemned North Korea's rocket launch, urged tightening of existing UN sanctions and warned of further action if Pyongyang carries out another missile launch or nuclear test.

China, a permanent veto-wielding council member and North Korea's protector on the 15-nation panel, backed the council's “presidential statement,” which was adopted unanimously.

UN diplomats said the council's relatively swift agreement on a declaration condemning Pyongyang signalled Beijing's irritation with its hermit neighbour over a satellite launch that North Korea had been widely urged not to carry out.

“The Security Council strongly condemns the 13 April 2012 (local time) launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK),” the statement said.

“The Security Council demands that the DPRK (North Korea) not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology and comply with (Security Council) resolutions ... by suspending all activities related to its ballistic missile program,” it said.

The council also asks its North Korea sanctions committee to consider adding new firms and individuals to its sanctions blacklist, as well as additional goods that North Korea would be banned from importing, within 15 days.

It concluded with a warning to Pyongyang that the council was prepared to take further steps if necessary.

“The Security Council expresses its determination to take action accordingly in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test,” it said.

The council declaration also demanded that North Korea “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner ... and not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests or any further provocation.”

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.

While the statement called for tightening existing UN sanctions, diplomats said no council member had seriously pushed the idea of imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang in retaliation for the launch, something China and Russia would have opposed.

The existing UN blacklist of sanctioned firms and individuals includes those 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, one of the measures the Security Council imposed on Pyongyang after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests. — Reuters

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