UN bid to censure North Korea thwarted

UNITED NATIONS • The UN Security Council has failed to agree on a statement condemning North Korea's launch of a missile that landed near Japan after China sought to include language opposing the US missile defence system in South Korea.

The United States had circulated a draft statement that strongly condemned the Aug 2 launch and expressed particular concern that the ballistic missile had landed near Japan.

China proposed adding that "all relevant parties shall avoid taking any actions which could provoke each other and escalate tensions, and shall not deploy any new anti-ballistic missile stronghold in North-east Asia with an excuse of dealing with threats of the (North Korean) nuclear and missile programmes", according to a draft obtained by Agence France-Presse.

US Ambassador Samantha Power had called for a "strong, swift response from the Security Council" following an emergency meeting last week to discuss the latest missile test.

Ms Power said the US agreement with South Korea to deploy the missile defence system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defence or Thaad, was "purely defensive" and in response to North Korea's drive to refine its missile capabilities.

Beijing, Pyongyang's closest ally, had sought to delete from the text a sentence expressing concern that the missile "impacted near Japan".

Beijing, Pyongyang's closest ally, had sought to delete from the text a sentence expressing concern that the missile "impacted near Japan".

Diplomats said negotiations on the council statement, which must be agreed by consensus, had hit a dead end on Tuesday.

It was the second time in two months that the council has been unable to agree on condemnation of North Korea, due to objections from China.

The council last adopted a statement condemning North Korea for two medium-range missile tests on June 23.

Pyongyang has been hit by five sets of UN sanctions since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.

The council in March adopted its toughest sanctions resolution to date, banning exports of coal, iron and other minerals from North Korea and imposing other restrictions, in particular on the banking sector.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2016, with the headline 'UN bid to censure North Korea thwarted'. Print Edition | Subscribe