UN Security Council to hold emergency talks on North Korea

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo (right) with US Forces Korea commander General Curtis Scaparrotti (left) and US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert (centre) at the defense ministry in South Korea, on Feb 7, 2016.
South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo (right) with US Forces Korea commander General Curtis Scaparrotti (left) and US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert (centre) at the defense ministry in South Korea, on Feb 7, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) - The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Sunday (Feb 7) in New York over North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket, diplomats said.

The closed-door talks were requested by South Korea as well as council members Japan and the United States, which have both denounced the launch as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

They will begin at 11am local time (12am Singapore).

Tokyo and Washington called the consultations over the launch of a "so-called 'satellite' by North Korea in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions," in a letter to the Venezuela mission, which currently holds the council presidency.

The resolutions bar Pyongyang from any ballistic missile or nuclear activity.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon condemned the launch as "deeply deplorable." Ban "reiterates his call on the DPRK to halt its provocative actions and return to compliance with its international obligations," a spokesman said, referring to North Korea.

 

"He reaffirms his commitment to working with all sides in reducing tensions and achieving the verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."

The unpredictable hermit state made good on its threat to launch a satellite-bearing rocket, despite US and South Korean warnings, the South Korean military confirmed.

The launch took place as the international community was still struggling to reach consensus on how to respond to Pyongyang's detonation of what it claimed was a powerful thermonuclear bomb on Jan 6.

The White House and its allies want to respond with a UN resolution that would slap more sanctions on the North.

But they must first win the backing of China, which has veto power in the Council, and which in the past has shielded its neighbour and close ally.

The North is already subject to numerous UN sanctions over previous rocket launches and three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.