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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

N.Korea fires missiles despite pressure over nuclear test

RIA Novosti

14:5426/05/2009 MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea fired two short-range missiles into the Pacific on Tuesday, in apparent defiance against international pressure over its recent nuclear test, South Korea's Yonhap agency reported.

The agency cited an unnamed South Korean official as saying: "The North is continuing its saber-rattling." However, he declined to say whether the launch from the country's east coast was a weapons test or purely a signal to opponents.

UN Security Council members will be working closely on Tuesday to debate sanctions and agree a resolution on North Korea, after unanimously condemning the country's nuclear test.

The reclusive communist state is banned from nuclear and ballistic activities under Security Council Resolution 1718, passed in 2006 after the North's first nuclear test, and is already subject to various sanctions.

The Security Council held an emergency session on Monday, after Pyongyang announced its underground nuclear test blast, which Russia later said had a force similar to the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

After the talks, UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds the council's rotating presidency, said the members "voiced their strong opposition to and condemnation of the nuclear test."

"The members of the Security Council have decided to start work immediately on a Security Council resolution on this matter," he said.

Soon after the blast, which was confirmed by international seismic readings, North Korea reportedly also test fired a surface-to-air missile with a range of 80 miles (130 kilometers) from its northeastern Musudan-ri launch site.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a South Korean, issued a statement condemning the nuclear test, voicing concern that it could harm regional security and damage the non-proliferation regime, and calling for a unified position on the issue.

"The Secretary-General trusts that the Security Council will take up this matter to send out a strong and unified message, conducive to achieving the goal of de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and peace and security in the region," the UN said on its website.

"The Secretary-General reiterates his conviction that differences should be resolved in a peaceful manner through dialogue. He urges the DPRK to refrain from taking further actions that would increase tensions in the region," the statement said.

U.S. President Barack Obama, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso discussed the issue by telephone on Monday night.

The White House said in a statement that all three "agreed to work closely together to seek and support a strong United Nations Security Council resolution with concrete measures to curtail North Korea's nuclear and missile activities."


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