UN Security Council in emergency session after North Korea's missile launch

The UN Security Council was called into emergency session today after North Korea conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile, to discuss what to do now that Kim Jong Un has ignored its latest round of sanctions.

France's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country is ready to work on tougher UN and EU measures "to convince the regime in Pyongyang that there is no interest in an escalation, and to bring it to the negotiating table".

It said North Korea will also be discussed during next week's annual gathering of world leaders at the General Assembly.

The intermediate-range weapon North Korea launched early Friday from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang's international airport, hurtled over US ally Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean.

The launch signalled both defiance of North Korea's rivals and a big technological advance.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in holds a telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea's missile launch at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea today. Picture: PA

Since US President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with "fire and fury" in August, the North has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, threatened to send missiles into the waters around the US Pacific island territory of Guam and launched two missiles of increasing range over Japan.

July saw the country's first tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike deep into the US mainland when perfected.

The growing frequency, power and confidence displayed by these tests seem to confirm what governments and outside experts have long feared: North Korea is closer than ever to its goal of building a military arsenal that can viably target US troops both in Asia and in the US homeland.

This, in turn, is meant to allow North Korea greater military freedom in the region by raising doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the annihilation of a US city to protect its Asian allies.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the missile launch as a serious violation of Security Council resolutions, coming less than two weeks after the North's sixth nuclear test, which also violated a UN ban.

The Security Council's emergency meeting on Friday was behind closed doors.

On Monday the council unanimously approved its toughest sanctions yet on North Korea over its nuclear test, which Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb.

The US said the measures, including a ban on textile exports, combined with previous sanctions would ban more than 90% of North Korea's exports reported in 2016.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry denounced the sanctions and said the North would "redouble its efforts to increase its strength to safeguard the country's sovereignty and right to existence".

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff said the latest missile travelled about 2,300 miles and reached a maximum height of 478 miles.

Guam, which is the home of important US military assets, is 2,112 miles away from North Korea.

Despite its impressive range, the missile probably still is not accurate enough to destroy Guam's Andersen Air Force Base, said David Wright, a US missile expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Friday, without mentioning the latest missile test, that its weapons tests demonstrate that it can "turn the American empire into a sea in flames through sudden surprise attack from any region and area".

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who initially pushed for talks with North Korea, said its tests currently make dialogue "impossible".

"The sanctions and pressure by the international community will only tighten so that North Korea has no choice but to take the path for genuine dialogue" for nuclear disarmament, Mr Moon said.

"If North Korea provokes us or our allies, we have the strength to smash the attempt at an early stage and inflict a level of damage it would be impossible to recover from."

North Korea has repeatedly vowed to continue its weapons tests amid what it calls US hostility - by which it means the presence of nearly 80,000 US troops stationed in Japan and South Korea.

AP


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