Feb 7, 2016 11:28 PM
The Latest: Japan mulls sanctions after NKorea launch
The Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The Latest on North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket (all times local):
Top government officials say they are preparing to step up Japan's sanctions on North Korea to protest against Sunday's rocket launch.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference Monday that Japan plans to decide possible measures "as quickly as possible" but declined to give details, including if they may come before a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Suga said Japan needs to thoroughly examine "the most effective steps it should take in order to comprehensively resolve the problems" including the issue of Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea, as well as nuclear and missile threats.
Australia's foreign minister says her government is considering tougher sanctions against North Korea and urged the United Nations to do the same in response to the secretive nation's latest rocket test.
Julie Bishop told Parliament on Monday that Australia is considering ratcheting up unilateral action against North Korea. Australia already prohibits trade in luxury and military goods and services with North Korea. Australia has also banned certain North Koreans from entering Australia and bars financial dealings with key individuals and organizations.
The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket on Sunday that world leaders called a banned test of ballistic missile technology.
South Korea's Defense Ministry says a North Korean patrol boat moved south of the countries' disputed boundary line in the Yellow Sea at about 6:50 a.m. local time, near the South Korean island of Socheong. South Korea fired five warning shots into the water and the North Korean boat retreated about 7:15 a.m. These sorts of exchanges are not unusual between the rivals, but there have been several bloody naval skirmishes around the Northern Limit Line. North Korea bitterly disputes the boundary line that was determined unilaterally by the United Nations after the 1950-53 Korean War.
The State Department says Secretary of State John Kerry has called the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan to discuss North Korea's rocket launch using ballistic missile technology.
According to a department statement, Kerry reaffirmed for both foreign ministers in conversations Sunday the United States' "ironclad commitment to the security and defense" of its allies and said the launch "threatened international peace and security."
It said Kerry emphasized the importance of a "united international response to North Korea's provocations, including a strong U.N. Security Council resolution.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power says a new U.N. resolution targeting North Korea over its rocket launch and recent nuclear test must be adopted very quickly and include "unprecedented measures" that its leader, Kim Jong Un, doesn't expect.
But China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi says a new resolution should "do the work of reducing tension, of working towards denuclearization, of maintaining peace and stability, and of encouraging a negotiated solution."
Both ambassadors spoke after Sunday's emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. All 15 council members approved a statement condemning the launch and pledging to "expeditiously" adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions.
The United States and China have been trying to agree on a new sanctions resolution since North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6.
The U.N. Security Council has issued a statement strongly condemning North Korea's rocket launch and pledging to "expeditiously" adopt a new resolution with "significant" new sanctions.
The statement approved by all 15 council members at an emergency meeting on Sunday underscored that launches using ballistic missile technology, "even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle" contribute to North Korea's development of systems to deliver nuclear weapons.
It stressed that using ballistic missile technology is a violation of four Security Council resolutions dating back to 2006.
The statement also expresses the council's commitment "to continue working toward a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation leading to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
The president of the Security Council says he expects the U.N.'s most powerful body to unanimously condemn North Korea's rocket launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions.
Venezuela's U.N. Ambassador Rafael Ramirez, the council president for February, told reporters before an emergency council meeting on Sunday that agreement on a new sanctions resolution may follow, perhaps next week.
The United States and China have been trying to agree on new sanctions since North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6. Diplomats say China has been pushing for more dialogue rather than tough new sanctions.
Britain's deputy ambassador Peter Wilson said: "Today is Chinese New Year's eve and if I was a senior Chinese official I would be pretty annoyed at what's been happening here."
The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on the North Korean rocket launch, and Japan and its Western allies are demanding swift adoption of tough new sanctions against Kim Jong Un's regime for violating U.N. resolutions.
Japan's U.N. Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa said before heading into Sunday's closed council meeting that the missile passed over Japan and landed near the Philippines, "and this is a clear threat to the lives of many people."
The United States and China have been working on a new sanctions resolution since North Korea conducted as nuclear test on Jan. 6.
Motohide said "China calls for more dialogue," but what's needed now is pressure and speedy adoption of a robust sanctions resolution.
Britain, France and Ukraine also called for swift and tough new sanctions.
Russia has criticized North Korea's rocket launch, saying Pyongyang once again has shown its disdain for international law.
A statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on Sunday called on the North Korean leadership "to think about whether the policy of opposing the entire international community is serving the interests of the country."
The ministry also says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov discussed the launch with his Japanese counterpart and stressed the importance of finding a diplomatic solution.
Italy's foreign minister says North Korea's rocket launch puts at risk both international and regional security, as well as peace.
Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni noted in a statement that Sunday's launch comes just one month after North Korea conducted a nuclear test, making for the North's "latest provocation." He said North Korea has "returned to openly violating (U.N.) Security Council resolutions."
Gentiloni called for a firm reaction from the international community, starting with the emergency Security Council meeting scheduled for later Sunday.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has issued a strong condemnation of North Korea's rocket launch, calling it a "direct violation" of five U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Stoltenberg said in a statement that the five resolutions "call for North Korea to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile" program, to "re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching and not to conduct any further nuclear test or any launch using ballistic missile technology."
He said that "NATO continues to call on the North Korean authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, not to threaten with or conduct any launches using ballistic missile technology and to refrain from any further provocative actions."
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has criticized North Korea's rocket launch and said Britain would meet with its U.N. Security Council partners in New York to map out a response.
Hammond said in a statement Sunday that he "strongly" condemns "North Korea's ballistic missile technology test."
He said the launch was "a clear and deliberate violation of a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions" and that the North's "actions continue to present a threat to regional and international security."
Hammond called the launch a "provocation" that proves North Korea has placed development of its nuclear weapons program ahead of the well-being of its people.
Germany and France have condemned North Korea's rocket launch.
Germany called the North's launch of a long-range missile Sunday an "irresponsible provocation."
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement that the East Asian country had "once again ignored the warnings of the international community."
Steinmeier noted that the launch breached a U.N. Security Council resolution and "once more threatens regional security."
He called for "measurable consequences" and said Germany would advocate a strong international reaction, adding that the U.N. Security Council meeting called for Sunday was an important signal.
French President Francois Hollande condemned the launch as "a senseless provocation."
He called for "a quick and severe reaction from the international community at the Security Council, starting today."
South Korea says it will further restrict the entry of its nationals to a jointly run factory park in North Korea.
The number of South Koreans staying in the Kaesong industrial complex, the last major cooperation project between the rivals, will be decreased to 500 from the current 650, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.
South Korea took similar measures after the North's nuclear test last month.
In a development that will worry both North Korea and China, a senior South Korean Defense Ministry official, Yoo Jeh Seung, told reporters that Seoul and Washington have agreed to begin talks on a possible deployment of the THADD missile defense system in South Korea.
China would see THAAD, which is one of the most advanced missile defense systems, as a threat to its interests in the region.
Yoo said the talks on THAAD are aimed at bolstering South Korea-U.S. defense in the face of escalating North Korean threats.
China, North Korea's main ally, has expressed regret at Pyongyang's rocket launch.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement that although China believes that North Korea should have the right to peaceful utilization of space, "at present this right is restricted by U.N. Security Council resolutions."
The statement says Beijing hopes all relevant parties will calmly deal with the issue, act with discretion and not take actions that may cause further escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has deplored North Korea's rocket launch, which he says is in violation of Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang's use of ballistic missile technology.
He says the launch came despite the "united plea of the international community against such an act."
The Secretary-General reiterates his call on North Korea to halt its provocative actions and return to compliance with its international obligations.
The U.N. Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday at 11 a.m. EST on the North Korean launch. The U.S., which confirmed the meeting, requested council members to meet along with Japan.
In a special announcement read on state-run North Korean TV, the announcer says the country has put a satellite into orbit on a successful rocket launch.
The announcer says North Korea will launch more satellites.
The North's special announcement says the launch was ordered by leader Kim Jong Un.
Republican presidential candidates in the U.S. are speaking up about North Korea's rocket launch on Sunday.
Asked how he would respond to North Korea's provocations, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he would authorize a pre-emptive strike against such rockets if it was necessary to keep America safe.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz demurred, saying he wouldn't speculate about how he'd handle the situation without a full briefing. And Donald Trump said he'd rely on China to "quickly and surgically" handle North Korea.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says Japan has sent a strong protest to North Korea through their respective embassies in Beijing following North Korea's rocket launch.
He also said that Japan is now considering its own sanctions against Pyongyang. He did not elaborate.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier Sunday sharply criticized North Korea and said that the launch violated existing U.N. resolutions on Pyongyang's use of ballistic missile technology.
Japan and the U.S. have requested an emergency U.N. Security Council session to discuss the situation.
South Korea's government says North Korea will make a special public announcement at noon Pyongyang time following Sunday's rocket launch.
The government in Seoul had no details about what exactly the announcement would contain. But it seemed highly likely that it would focus on the North's rocket launch.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned North Korea's rocket launch as "a flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions" related to Pyongyang's use of ballistic missile technology.
Kerry says this is the second time in just over a month that North Korea has chosen to conduct "a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean Peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well."
He reaffirms Washington's "ironclad commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan."
He says the U.S. will continue to work with its partners and members of the U.N. Security Council on significant measures to hold North Korea to account.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency is reporting that North Korea's rocket launch may have failed.
The agency provided no other details in a short dispatch.
The South's Defense Ministry says it cannot immediately confirm the report. North Korea successfully put a satellite into orbit in its last launch, in December 2012. But before that Pyongyang suffered a series of failures.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the North Korean launch and the recent nuclear test violations of U.N. agreements.
He told reports: "We absolutely cannot allow this. We will take action to totally protect the safety and well-being of our people."
The Japanese government says no rocket debris fell on the Japanese territory and there are no reports of damage.
A South Korean defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of office rules, says the South Korean military was tracking the rocket's trajectory but gave no further details.
He says the launch from the North's west coast launching pad was made between 9:30-9:35 a.m. local time.
Japan's NHK broadcaster reported that the Japanese government said the rocket passed over the southern Japanese island of Okinawa but no anti-missiles were fired.
Japan's national broadcaster NHK broke into normal programming to alert the news of Sunday morning's launch and show live footage of Patriot missile batteries on the island of Okinawa deployed to shoot down any debris that might potentially fall on Japanese territory.
It said the North Korean rocket was launched at 9:31 a.m. Japan time.
The launch Sunday follows North Korea's claim last month to have tested a hydrogen bomb and will likely draw more sanctions and condemnation in the United Nations.