Business News

Anger, sanctions threats greet N. Korea rocket launch plans

SEOUL, (APP/AFP) – South Korea and Japan on Wednesday
echoed US warnings that North Korea would pay a heavy price if it pushes ahead with a planned rocket launch just weeksafter conducting its fourth nuclear test.
Urging Pyongyang to drop its plans for a launch as early as next
week, the government in Seoul said the move would be a serious breach of UN resolutions and a “direct challenge” to the international community.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned what he called a
“serious provocation” and clear violation of Pyongyang’s international obligations.
The warnings came a day after the North announced a February 8-25
window for the launch, ostensibly aimed at putting an Earth observation satellite into orbit.
UN resolutions forbid the North from any use of ballistic missile
technology, and Tuesday’s announcement saw Pyongyang doubling down against an international community already struggling to come up with a united response to last month’s nuclear test.
“It’s a classic move,” said John Delury, an associate professor at
Yonsei University in Seoul.
“While waiting for a full response for the nuclear test, you might as
well sneak in a rocket launch. The North tends to do these things in pairs,” Delury said
The United States, which has been spearheading a diplomatic drive for
harsher, more effective sanctions on Pyongyang, was quick to condemn the launch plan.
Daniel Russel, the assistant US secretary of state for Asia-Pacific
affairs slammed what he called “yet another egregious violation” of UN resolutions.
“This argues even more strongly for action by the UN Security Council
and the international community to impose… tough additional sanctions,” Russel said.
In formal notifications sent to three UN agencies, including the
International Maritime Organization (IMO), North Korea said the launch would
take place in the morning with a daily window of 7:00am-midday Pyongyang time (2230-0330 GMT).
The dates suggest a launch around the time of the birthday on
February 16 of late leader Kim Jong-Il, father of current leader Kim Jong-Un.
The South Korean government statement urged Pyongyang to call off the
launch immediately or pay a “heavy price” for threatening regional peace and
UN sanctions were tightened after North Korea successfully placed a
satellite in orbit on a three-stage Unha-3 rocket in December 2012.
A fresh launch poses a dilemma for the international community, which
is already divided on how to punish the North for its nuclear test.
North Korea’s chief diplomatic ally, China, has been resisting the US
push for tougher sanctions, but a rocket launch would bolster calls for Beijing to bring its maverick neighbour into line.