Shortly after an urgently convened meeting, the UN Security Council expressed "grave concern" over the latest missile tests. North Korea test fired at least one ballistic missile on Friday.
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned and expressed grave concern at the ballistic missile launches," the 15-member Security Council said in a statement after meeting about the issue on Friday.
The council also "stressed that all these launches were unacceptable," violated UN resolutions and posed a threat to regional and international security.
The new statement did not mention the possibility of further punitive action against Pyongyang, which analysts said had conducted Friday's tests in defiance of harsh new UN sanctions imposed recently to starve North Korea of money for its nuclear weapons program.
Ahead of the meeting, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said: "If anybody on the council needed a reminder of why that resolution is so important and why banding together to enforce international peace and security is so important, the North Korean regime just provided yet another one."
Tensions remain high
Friday's missile tests were part of recent promises made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to expand the country's missile test program. The first flew about 800 kilometers (500 miles) off the Korean peninsula's eastern coast, before crashing into the sea. Radar signals picked up a likely second missile, but the signal was quickly lost, indicating the device may have exploded in flight.
The missiles were thought to be of the Rodong model, which has a range of 1,300 kilometers and can reach all of South Korea and some of Japan, South Korea's Yonghap News Agency said.
US officials told Reuters the medium-range missiles appeared to be fired from road-mobile launchers.
The launches follow two similar tests last week, which saw missiles fired into the East Sea. They are being seen as retaliation for joint US and South Korean military drills on the Korean peninsula, which Pyongyang perceives as a rehearsal for an invasion of the isolated state.
They follow the test of a nuclear device in January and a long-range rocket in February.
North Korea also claims it has made abreakthrough in its pursuit of a long-range missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
Following the latest missile tests, Japan said it had lodged a formal protest with Pyongyang's embassy in China, North Korea's main diplomatic ally.
China losing patience
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang urged the North to abide by U.N. resolutions and not to do anything to exacerbate tensions.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Washington was "analyzing the results of those launches," but called on Beijing to use its influence over Pyongyang.
"China could do a lot more," Carter said, adding Beijing should seek a nuclear-free North Korea.
US President Barack Obama signed off on the new sanctions for Pyongyang on Wednesday, which freeze North Korean government assets in the US, ban US exports to or investment in North Korea and expand a US blacklist to anyone, including non-Americans, who deals with North Korea.
mnm/bw (AP, Reuters)