North Korea missile launch needs strong Security Council response: The Yomiuri Shimbun

A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo on Feb 7, 2016.
A North Korean long-range rocket is launched into the air at the Sohae rocket launch site, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo on Feb 7, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

In its editorial on Feb 9, The Yomiuri Shimbun says Pyongyang's reckless conducts pose a serious challenge to the international order.

North Korea's latest missile launch has further increased the threat from that country, which is shaking regional peace and stability.

The international community must unite in its efforts to deal with the threat.

North Korea has gone ahead with launching a long-range ballistic missile under the pretext of orbiting what it described as a "satellite."

It is an absolute folly.

In an "important special broadcast," state-run Korean Central Television announced that the country had launched an Earth observation satellite and successfully put it into orbit.

UN Security Council resolutions previously adopted over North Korea's nuclear weapon and missile development prohibit Pyongyang from any launch using ballistic missile technology.

The country's latest missile launch, along with January's nuclear test, was a clear violation of the resolutions.

North Korea's repeated reckless conducts, which pose a serious challenge to the international order, cannot be tolerated.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had every reason to emphasise his determination, saying, "We will resolutely take measures, acting in cooperation with the international community."

The missile recently launched by North Korea is believed to have been a three-stage ballistic missile similar to an improved version of the Taepodong 2 missile, a model the country sent aloft in December 2012.

According to observations by the US authorities, an object detached from the missile is believed to have circled the Earth.

The fact that it reached outer space like in 2012, illustrates advancement in that nation's missile technology.

Some point out North Korea's extension of a launchpad last year was part of an effort to increase the size of its missiles, thereby extend the range.

North Korea's effort to develop missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and reaching the US mainland is aimed at bringing the United States to the negotiating table.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, is inexperienced and rules his country through a reign of terror in which close aides are purged one after another.

We feel the latest missile launch shows he has become even more incapable of making reasonable decisions.

The UN Security Council is to discuss the latest missile launch at an emergency meeting.

It is essential for the council to hammer out effective measures.

Japan, a non-permanent member of the council, needs to proactively work to encourage other members of the UN organ to adopt strong sanctions against North Korea.

The problem is that China, which holds a lifeline that can determine whether North Korea can survive economically, remains cautious about strengthening sanctions.

Although Beijing said North Korea's missile launch was "regrettable," it avoided any strong denunciation of Pyongyang.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone with US President Barack Obama two days before the missile launch and confirmed the need for a coordinated response to North Korea's actions.

Yet Mr Xi insisted only on a solution through dialogue and consultation, indicating that it will not compromise with the United States, which called for stronger sanctions.

China's lukewarm posture may have bolstered North Korea. Shortly after the US-China phone conversation, North Korea notified an international organisation that it was bringing forward the start of the window during which it would launch a rocket.

North Korea has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and missile launches. It is obvious that previous sanctions are not sufficient.

China should no longer avoid imposing sanctions on North Korea, which would deal a blow to Pyongyang, and should cooperate with the UN Security Council to adopt strong sanctions.

In criticising the launch, South Korean President Park Geun Hye said North Korea is trying to advance its nuclear technology and missile capability to deliver a nuclear weapon.

The South Korean government announced that it would begin official talks with the United States to deploy one of the most advanced US missile defense systems in South Korea.

Seoul's decision, made in disregard of China's opposition, can be construed as a decision to modify its tilt toward China.

North Korea is said to have deployed a large number of Rodong ballistic missiles that can reach Japan. If North Korea improves the accuracy of the missiles, they will, together with the country's ability to develop smaller nuclear weapons, pose a more serious threat to Japan.

Immediately after the missile launch, the Japanese government held a meeting of the National Security Council attended by its four ministers, to analyse intelligence and discuss what actions should be taken in the days ahead.

Three minutes after the missile launch, the government reported the relevant information to local governments in Okinawa Prefecture and others, through the J-Alert instant warning system.

The smooth transmission of this information was praiseworthy.

Although the Self-Defence Forces had been ordered to intercept any incoming missiles from North Korea, no measures to intercept were taken, as the SDF judged that there was no possibility of the missile falling onto Japanese territory.

It was appropriate that the SDF, by responding promptly to North Korea's advancing the start of the window for launching a rocket, had completed its deployment of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air guided missile units and other preparations.

It is essential to examine the latest series of responses and beef up the crisis-management system for the entire country.

North Korea has also postponed its report on the reinvestigation of the abducted Japanese nationals.

The government should consider in earnest the revival or reinforcement of its own sanctions that were lifted earlier.

As North Korea has continued taking actions that completely run counter to improving its relations with Japan, this country will implement harsh measures commensurate to the steps taken by North Korea. It is important for this country to adhere to the principle of "action for action."

* The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, a grouping of 22 newspapers seeking to promote coverage of Asian affairs.