UN Security Council strongly condemns North Korea missile launches

The UN Security Council today strongly condemned North Korea's recent ballistic missile launches and expressed serious concern over Pyongyang's "increasingly destabilising behaviour."

The strong condemnation came in a US-drafted statement that was unanimously approved by the council despite US tensions with China over Washington's deployment of an advanced missile defence system in South Korea.

The council described the missile tests as a "grave violation" of UN resolutions barring North Korea from developing missile technology and vowed to "take further significant measures."

Council members will hold an emergency meeting today at the request of the United States and Japan to discuss the launches of four missiles that North Korea said were part of a training exercise for a strike on US bases in Japan.

Three of missiles fired on Monday came down in waters close to Japan.

Council members said in the statement that North Korea's activities "increase tension in the region and beyond as well as the risk of a regional arms race."

The United States circulated the draft statement ahead of the meeting as tensions were rife with China over the US move to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system.

The US Pacific Command said Monday that the Americans had begun deploying the THAAD system to South Korea, which is designed to defend the US ally from a North Korean attack.

China responded that it was "firmly opposed" to the deployment and vowed to "resolutely take necessary measures" to defend its security interests.

China, a permanent council member and Pyongyang's main ally, has argued that deployment of the THAAD would further destabilise the situation on the Korean peninsula.

The council has imposed six sets of sanctions on North Korea -- two of which were adopted last year to significantly ramp up measures and deny Kim Jong-Un's regime hard currency revenue.

A recent report by a UN panel of experts said North Korea was resorting to ingenious ways to circumvent sanctions by setting up front companies, notably in China and Malaysia.

The report raised questions about China's commitment to implement sanctions against North Korea.

The council called on all UN member-states to redouble their efforts to ensure that they comply with the sanctions resolutions.

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