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UN Security Council condemns North Korea missile launch

The Security Council has condemned Pyongyang’s launch of two ballistic missiles as a violation of UN resolutions. North Korea had fired the medium-range missiles amid a Japan-Korea security summit hosted by the US.

Luxembourg's UN ambassador, Sylvia Lucas, told reporters on Thursday that the Security Council had "agreed to consult on an appropriate response" to the

ballistic missile launch

, the first by North Korea in four years.

"Security Council members condemn this launch as a violation of Security Council resolutions," Lucas said after a closed door meeting in New York. Luxembourg holds the Security Council's rotating presidency for the month of March.

The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution in 2006, which banned North Korea from launching ballistic missiles. The resolution was adopted in response to a claimed nuclear weapons test by Pyongyang.

US-Japan-South Korea summit

Washington was hosting a rare security

summit with the leaders of South Korea and Japan

when North Korea fired the missiles. The meeting of the three nations' leaders occurred on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands on Wednesday.

In response to Wednesday's missile launch, the US had called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. According to South Korea's defense ministry, the two Rodong missiles flew 650 kilometers (400 miles) and crashed into the Sea of Japan. Rodong-class missiles have a range of 1,000-1,500 kilometers.

"This missile is capable of hitting not only most of Japan but also Russia and China," said Kim Min-Seok, South Korea's defense ministry spokesman. Kim added that the missiles had been fired from mobile launchers near Pyongyang.

North Korea warns of ‘nuclear deterrent'

Last Sunday, North Korea fired 16 short-range rockets with a range of 60 kilometers into the sea. During the month of March, Pyongyang has fired off around 70 such rockets overall, which the communist government has described as "routine" weapons tests. The rocket barrage coincided with US-South Korea military drills.

On Monday, North Korea's UN ambassador, Ri Tong-Li, warned that Pyongyang was prepared to "demonstrate the self-defensive nuclear deterrent." When pressed by journalists for more detail, Ri said that further measures would be "dependent on the attitude of the US."

"What kind of additional measures, I think you can wait later and see," he told a news conference, accusing the US of creating "human rights conspiracies."

Last month, a UN commission published a 400-page report on the human rights situation in North Korea. The commission found evidence of widespread crimes against humanity, including enslavement, rape, forced abortions, forced population transfers, the disappearance of persons and intentionally causing starvation.

The UN commission chairman, Michael Kirby, compared the situation in North Korea to "the scourges of Nazism," the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and apartheid in South Africa.

The European Union and Japan have been drafting a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) that would demand legal accountability for the North Korean regime's leadership.

slk/av (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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