U.N. Security Council to meet on N. Korea launch

South Koreans watch broadcast reports in Seoul of a North Korean rocket launch.
International reaction to reports of a rocket launch by North Korea ranged from calls for an immediate U.N. Security Council meeting to calls for measured diplomacy.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a meeting for Sunday afternoon after Japan’s representative to the United Nations, Yukio Takasu, sent a letter requesting an urgent meeting in response to the launch. In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — himself a South Korean — expressed regret over reports of the launch. “The Secretary-General regrets that, against strong international appeal, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) went ahead with its planned launch,” said a spokesperson for the Secretary-General in a prepared statement. “Given the volatility in the region, as well as a stalemate in interaction among the concerned parties, such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability. The Secretary-General urges DPRK to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, and all countries concerned to focus on ways to build confidence and restore dialogue, including the early resumption of the six-party talks.” Watch analysis of Sunday’s launch » Calls for a U.N. Security Council session first came in Japan moments after reports of the launch first appeared. “We have been urging North Korea to cancel their rocket launch,” said Takeo Kawamura, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary. “However, it went ahead with the launch, we regard this as a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution(s) 1695 and 1718. This is very unfortunate, and … the Japanese government has demanded an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to be convened and we have denounced North Korea’s action. Watch Japanese reaction to reports of at launch »

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Japan’s representative to the United Nations, Yukio Takasu, sent a letter requesting an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting in response to the reported launch. The letter to Claude Heller, Mexico’s representative and the current Security Council president, was sent minutes after news of the launch broke. In Beijing, China’s government called for calm. “We hope all countries will remain calm and restraint will resolve this in appropriate way.” The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a prepared statement. The government referred to the North Korean rocket launch as one that carried a satellite. Last week North Korea defended its right to explore outer space. “Outer space is not a monopoly of a few specified powers but an asset common to mankind and the space development is promoted worldwide at present,” according to a commentary reported last Thursday in the state-run KCNA news service. Watch analysis of what North Korea’s motivations may be from the launch » In Seoul. South Korea’s government condemned the launch, calling it a “serious threat” to world peace, the state-sponsored Yonhap news agency reported. “We cannot withhold our regrets and disappointment that North Korea has caused such a serious threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the world by firing a long-range rocket when the entire world is joining efforts to overcome the global economic crisis,” Lee Dong-kwan, a presidential spokesman said, according to Yonhap news agency. Earlier Sunday, before the launch, South Korea’s national security council called an emergency meeting amid concerns that a North Korean rocket launch was imminent, a presidential spokesperson told CNN on Sunday. U.S. President Barack Obama, in Prague, Czech Republic, for a meeting with European Union leaders, criticized the reported launch.

“With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement after the launch. “We will immediately consult with our allies in the region, including Japan and (South Korea), and members of the U.N. Security Council to bring this matter before the Council,” Obama added. “I urge North Korea to abide fully by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and to refrain from further provocative actions.”