12 Dec 2012

Security concerns after North Korean missile launch

A North Korean missile launch receives international condemnation after US warning systems detect a rocket, with William Hague calling it a “provocative act”.

Initial reports, from the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), suggest the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit.

“At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America,” NORAD said in a statement.

Security concerns

The launch was detected at 0049 GMT on Wednesday and the rocket was tracked on a southerly course, with the first stage falling into the Yellow Sea and the second dropping into the Philippine Sea.

Japan said debris from the rocket landed in seas off the Korean peninsula and the Philippines.

North Korea, under Kim Jong-un, has pledged to bolster its nuclear arsenal unless Washington scraps what Pyongyang calls a hostile policy.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday strongly condemned North Korea’s missile launch and expressed concern that it could negatively impact prospects for peace and security in the region.

“The secretary general deplores the rocket launch announced by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” Mr Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.

“It is a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1874, in which the Council demanded that the DPRK not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology,” the statement said.

Mr Nesirky added that Mr Ban was in touch with “concerned” governments.

‘Provocative act’

Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the launch: “This provocative act will increase tensions in the region,” he said.

“I deplore the fact that the DPRK has chosen to prioritise this launch over improving the livelihood of its people.

“We will be summoning the DPRK ambassador to the UK to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the UK will urgently consult partners in the United Nations Security Council on our response to this development.

“It is essential that the DPRK refrain from further provocative action and take constructive steps towards denuclearisation and lasting peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”

Russia, which has often balanced criticism of North Korea’s nuclear activities with calls on other powers to refrain from belligerent actions against Pyongyang, expressed “deep regret” over the launch.

In a statement, the country’s foreign ministry said the North Korean launch had heightened instability in the region and called on other nations to refrain from further escalating tensions.

UN security council diplomats said the 15-nation body would discuss the launch during a scheduled meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Japan had requested a security council meeting on the missile launch.