By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States, supported by Britain and France, has asked the U.N. Security Council to meet behind closed-doors on Thursday over North Korea’s launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile, diplomats said on Tuesday.
North Korea confirmed on Monday it had launched a Hwasong-12 ballistic missile, the same weapon it had once threatened to target the U.S. territory of Guam with, sparking fears the nuclear-armed state could resume long-range testing.
The launch of the intermediate-range ballistic missile was first reported by South Korean and Japanese authorities on Sunday. It was the seventh test conducted by North Korea last month and the first time a nuclear-capable missile of that size has been launched since 2017.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday condemned the launch and urged Pyongyang “to desist from taking any further counter-productive actions,” a U.N. spokesman said.
“This is a breaking of the DPRK’s announced moratorium in 2018 on launches of this nature, and a clear violation of Security Council resolution,” said deputy U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq, using the official name for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“It is of great concern that the DPRK has again disregarded any consideration for international flight or maritime safety,” Haq added in a statement.
Since 2006, North Korea has been subjected to U.N. sanctions, which the Security Council has strengthened over the years in an effort to target funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
China and Russia last month delayed a U.S. bid to impose U.N. sanctions on five North Koreans, diplomats said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Sandra Maler)