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N. Korea 'defied' world with rocket launch: US lawmaker

Published on Dec 12, 2012 11:07 AM
Travellers watch a TV screen broadcasting news on North Korea's rocket launch, at a railway station in Seoul on December 12, 2012. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - North Korea's rocket launch on Wednesday showed leader Kim Jong Un is just as provocative as his father, with Pyongyang seeking to defy the world with a ballistic missile threat, a top US Republican lawmaker warned.

"North Korea has once again defied the United Nations, its six-party partners, and the world by launching a long-range rocket under the guise of a so-called 'satellite test,'" said congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"It is clear that Pyongyang is moving ever closer towards its ultimate goal of producing a nuclear ballistic missile in order to threaten not only our allies in the Asia-Pacific region but the US as well," she said in a statement released late on Tuesday, US time.

North Korea launched a long-range rocket in defiance of UN sanctions threats over what Pyongyang's critics insist is a disguised ballistic missile test.

Ms Ros-Lehtinen said the only approach Pyongyang understands is one of "action and strength", and called for fortification of sanctions and greater diplomatic and defense cooperation between Washington and its Asia-Pacific allies "to contain the menace of North Korea".

"The illusion that Kim Jong Un would be any less ruthless or provocative than his father (Kim Jong Il) and grandfather (Kim Il Sung) before him has gone up in smoke on the missile launch pad," added Ms Ros-Lehtinen, a national security hawk.

But she also said Pyongyang has taken advantage of lax policies by US President Barack Obama, a move she feared might embolden another Washington rival, Teheran.

"The Obama administration's policies of appeasement through proposed talks over the past four years has done nothing to deter North Korean aggression," she said.

"The administration's statements that we will prevent the Iranian regime from going nuclear lose all credibility when one observes how North Korea has been able to brazenly flaunt all UN resolutions, sanctions and appeals for restraint since 1993."