SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations condemned North Korea’s “outrageous” firing of a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday, demanding Pyongyang halt its weapons program but holding back on any threat of new sanctions on the isolated regime.
North Korea said the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) was to counter U.S. and South Korean military drills and was a first step in military action in the Pacific to “contain” the U.S. territory of Guam.
The North’s leader Kim Jong Un ordered the launch to be conducted for the first time from its capital, Pyongyang, and said more exercises with the Pacific as the target were needed, the North’s KCNA news agency said on Wednesday.
“The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying. The Korean People’s Army or KPA is the North’s military.
Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near Guam, home to a major U.S. military presence, after President Donald Trump said the North would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States.
In a statement the 15-member Security Council said it was of “vital importance” that North Korea take immediate, concrete actions to reduce tensions and called on all states to implement U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang.
However, the U.S.-drafted statement, which was agreed by consensus, does not threaten new sanctions on North Korea.
Diplomats say veto-wielding council members China and Russia typically only view a test of a long-range missile or a nuclear weapon as a trigger for further possible sanctions.
China and Russia’s ambassadors to the United Nations said they opposed any unilateral sanctions on North Korea and reiterated calls to halt deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.
“I certainly hope that we’ll be able to have a strong resolution…