The UN Security Council has warned it may hit North Korea with a new round of sanctions in response to its latest missile launches, which it blamed for stirring up regional tension, and urged Pyongyang to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile activity.

In the wake of North Korea’s medium-range missile launch into the Sea of Japan on Saturday, the UNSC slammed the self-isolated country for “highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance” it displays by turning a blind eye to multiple UN resolutions expressly prohibiting it from attempting such actions.

Apart from reiterating its commitment to comply with all restrictive measures imposed on North Korea under previous resolutions, the Council hinted it might look at the possibility to tighten the grip on the state’s economy, which is already suffering under a heavy burden of international sanctions.

“The members of the Security Council agreed that the Security Council would continue to closely monitor the situation and take further significant measures including sanctions, in line with the Council’s previously expressed determination,” the statement read.

It went on to call on Pyongyang to phase out its nuclear and missile program and enforce a total ban on nuclear and missile tests, arguing that the development of missile and nuclear weapons is being carried out by Pyongyang at the expense of ordinary people, who “have great unmet need.”

Earlier, the French ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, said that the UNSC is looking into a possible expansion of sanctions, promising a “strong” and “swift” retaliation to North Korea’s latest breach of international law.

 

Whether the threats will materialize into a new round of sanctions is likely to be decided Tuesday, when a closed-door UNSC meeting on North Korea is scheduled to take place.

The newest missile launch was claimed by North Korea as a successful test of a long-range strategic ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. However, the US military disputed the claim, arguing that the projectile was more likely a mid-range missile, than an intercontinental one.

The missile had reportedly covered a distance of 700 kilometers, with its altitude reported by some media outlets to be as high as 2,000 meters, before descending into the Sea of Japan, according to South Korean and Japanese militaries’ estimates. CONTINUE…