UN sees North Korea rocket launches as threat to civilian planes, ships


North Korea’s rocket launches are a serious risk to civil aviation and maritime traffic, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council as it met to discuss Pyongyang’s first spy satellite launch.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the November 21 launch aimed to monitor the United States and its allies. On Monday, Pyongyang said it would continue exercising its sovereign rights, including through more satellite launches.

Senior UN official Khaled Khiari told the 15-member Security Council that while Pyongyang issued a pre-launch notification to the Japanese Coast Guard, it did not notify the International Maritime Organisation, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, or the International Telecommunications Union.

“The DPRK’s launches represent a serious risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic,” Khiari said.

Formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea has been under UN sanctions for its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes since 2006. This includes a ban on the development of ballistic missiles.

Such technology was used to launch the satellite last week and follows the testing of dozens of ballistic missiles over the past 20 months. The United States has long warned that Pyongyang was ready to carry out a seventh nuclear test.

“The DPRK has made its motivations clear. The DPRK is unabashedly trying to advance its nuclear weapons delivery systems by testing ballistic missile technology in clear violation of this council’s resolutions,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council.

“This reckless unlawful behaviour threatens all of the DPRK’s neighbours and all member states. As you heard from Mr Khiari, there was no notification of this action,” she said.

Pyongyang says it is exercising its right to self-defence with its ballistic missile tests to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests from military threats.

For the past several years the UN Security Council has been divided over how to deal with Pyongyang. Russia and China, veto powers along with the US, Britain and France, have said more sanctions will not help and want such measures to be eased.

China and Russia say joint military drills by the United States and South Korea provoke Pyongyang, while Washington accuses Beijing and Moscow of emboldening North Korea by shielding it from more sanctions.

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