The UN Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned North Korea's latest ballistic missile tests as a "grave violation" of UN resolutions in an unusually swift move underlining the seriousness the international community attaches to the provocations.
The council adopted the press statement after holding an urgent meeting to discuss the North's launches of three medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles on Monday. The statement's adoption means that even China and Russia have agreed to condemn the launches.
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the ballistic missile launches conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on 5 September 2016," the statement said. "These launches are in grave violation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's international obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions."
Tuesday's statement, which came only 10 days after the council adopted a press statement condemning the North's launch of a submarine missile test, also urged Pyongyang to "refrain from further actions, including nuclear tests, in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and comply fully with its obligations under these resolutions."
The statement also urged UN member nations to redouble efforts to carry out UN sanctions on the North. It also said the council will continue to closely monitor the situation and take "further significant measures in line with the Council's previously expressed determination."
Monday's missile barrage was the latest in a number of missile launches of all ranges -- short, medium, intermediate and submarine missiles -- the communist nation has been carrying out since its fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch the following month.
Such launches represent a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban the North from any activity using ballistic missile technology over concern that it can be used to develop long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Earlier in the day, Japan's UN ambassador, Koro Bessho, said the council showed "much stronger" unity.
"All members recognized these launches as a blatant violation of the Security Council resolutions and other commitments by North Korea. They all opposed and condemned the launch in very strong terms," Bessho told reporters after the meeting.
U.S. Amb. Samantha Power said she was confident that the council would adopt a statement, just as it did with Chinese consent last month when the North successfully carried out a test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
"The Security Council must remain unequivocal and united in condemnation of this test and we must take action to enforce the words we put on paper, to enforce our resolutions," she said, calling for stringent implementation of UN sanctions.
Power also said that the reason the U.S., South Korea and Japan called Tuesday's meeting is because with "each violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and there have been 22 of them so far this year, the DPRK demonstrates further advancement of its ballistic missile program."
"This launch, which I would note took place while China was hosting the G20 summit, once again shows the DPRK's blatant disregard for its international obligations and its willingness to provoke and to threaten the international community with impunity," Power said.
"The DPRK's missile test helped it threaten the territory of even more countries in the region, whether through its land-based missiles or now via its recently tested submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Once the DPRK has the capability to do so, we know what they intend to do with these missile systems ... They intend to arm the systems with nuclear weapons," she said.
Amb. Hahn Choong-hee, deputy chief of South Korea's mission to the UN, also called for greater efforts to curb the North's weapons programs.
"North Korea's advancement of nuclear and missile capability, if unchecked, will continue to pose a serious threat to regional peace and security as well as the nonproliferation regime," he said. (Yonhap)