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Major Powers Blast N. Korea`s Rocket Launch

Posted April. 06, 2009 08:02,   


North Korea yesterday claimed that its Unha-2 rocket was launched at 11:20 a.m. from a satellite launch pad in Hwadae County, North Hamkyong Province, to put its satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 into orbit nine minutes and two seconds later.

South Korea immediately denounced the launch, calling it a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 and a provocative act threatening stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told a news briefing that he was “greatly disappointed” by the launch, adding it cost the impoverished communist state an enormous amount of money that could otherwise have been used to alleviate the North’s chronic food shortages.

He warned that Seoul will deal “sternly and resolutely” with any provocation by Pyongyang, and that South Korea is considering joining the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative.

Earlier in the day, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak chaired a National Security Council meeting, where he ordered the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Kim Tae-young to closely watch the situation and have the military on alert.

Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said the South is “disappointed” over the North’s “reckless” act, adding Seoul will wait for Pyongyang’s change in attitude with patience and consistency.

The Defense Ministry in Seoul also put the military on heightened alert, saying the launch prompted Seoul to consider reinforcing South Korea-U.S. joint missile capabilities.

Brigadier General Kim Jong-bae, chief operation officer of Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news conference that the North’s long-range missile will likely affect the wartime deployment of U.S. reinforcement troops and South Korea-U.S. operational capabilities.

The U.S. Forces Korea will likely significantly reinforce its missile capabilities by, for instance, deploying additional Patriot missile interceptors, he said.

Visiting Prague during an eight-day visit to Europe, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement that the North’s launch of its Taepodong-2 missile was a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council’s resolution.

“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,” he said.

"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.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso blasted the launch as “provocative act” that cannot be tolerated, adding his country will cooperate with the international community to seek a new Security Council resolution. Japan also plans to extend sanctions on North Korea for another year.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council plans to discuss the rocket launch issue at 3 p.m. local time Sunday, but a conclusion is not expected because of wide differences between the United States and China and Russia.