After days of closed-door haggling, the UN Security Council was hoping to adopt a statement yesterday condemning North Korea’s botched rocket launch and suggesting an expansion of a UN blacklist of North Korean firms and individuals, envoys said.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said on Friday last week the members of the 15-nation Security Council “deplored” North Korea’s failed bid to launch a long-range rocket, but that the council would continue talks on a formal condemnation of the actions of Pyongyang.
Diplomats said on condition of anonymity that China, North Korea’s closest ally, was pushing for a softer rebuke than the one favored by the US, which holds this month’s Security Council presidency.
“Unless China raises objections overnight, we’ll adopt a presidential statement on DPRK [North Korea] tomorrow at 10am,” a Western diplomat said.
Unlike resolutions, council statements are not voted on, but are adopted unanimously.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, has also deplored the rocket launch.
North Korea admitted its long-range rocket failed to deliver a satellite into orbit on Friday, while US and South Korean officials said it crashed into the sea a few minutes after launch.
Diplomats said no council -member had pushed the idea of imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang in retaliation for the launch, something China and Russia would have opposed.
However, they said the draft statement does urge the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee to consider adding new names to an existing UN blacklist of firms and individuals linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile industries.
US and other Western officials have said the launch violated a UN ban on the use of ballistic missile technology by North Korea, a measure the Security Council imposed on Pyongyang in the wake of its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.
In other news, North Korea will push for the launch of a new and bigger rocket as part of a five-year space program despite last week’s failed launch, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan said yesterday.
The Choson Sinbo said that the launch was part of the North’s five-year space rocket program, which began this year, and is aimed at helping the country’s “economic development.”
It quoted an unnamed official involved in the North’s rocket program as saying Pyongyang would develop a bigger rocket than the one launched last week, the Unha-3.
“[North Korean] scientists and engineers will never give up” despite the failed launch, Choson Sinbo said.
Also yesterday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak urged the country to abandon its missile and nuclear program, warning that an arms race had led to the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
“North Korea may think it can threaten the world and promote internal unity with nuclear weapons and missiles, but this would instead put itself into greater danger,” Lee said in a radio address.