The United States, Japan and 10 other countries want a UN investigation of North Korea's latest ballistic missile tests. The demand could trigger targeted sanctions, although Pyongyang appears unperturbed.
Ten Security Council members, plus Australia and South Korea, have asked the UN sanctions committee to "review carefully the known details" about the July 18 launch of three Scud ballistic missiles and a No Dong intermediate-range missile.
The request was endorsed by council members Britain, France, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine and Uruguay, while China, North Korea's only ally, and Russia did not back the request.
"As the DPRK proceeds to develop new and destabilizing weapon systems, the Security Council should be prepared to respond with further significant measures," according to the letter sent to the sanctions committee on July 28.
It goes on to ask the committee to "take appropriate action" in response to Pyongyang's launch of the missiles, which are in violation of Security Council resolutions.
Pyongyang's latest missile launch for the first time landed in Japanese-controlled waters in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), 155 miles (250 kilometers) off Japan's northern coast and within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
North Korea has been hit by five sets of UN sanctions since it first tested an atomic device in 2006. In March the council adopted its toughest sanctions resolution so far on the communist country, banning exports of coal, iron and other minerals and imposing restrictions in the banking sector.
The probe would identify people and companies involved in North Korea's missile program. If identified, they could face sanctions including a global visa ban and assets freeze.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States "continues to be concerned about North Korea's behavior and considers it critical to work with the international community, including China and Russia, to urge the North Korean government to stop the launches."
jbh/jm (AFP, AP)