US almost gives the “ultimatum” to North Korea over firing long-range rocket

 Kim Jong UN watches the launch
Kim Jong UN watches the launch

The US has said North Korea will face “serious consequences” after launched a long-range rocket in defiance of international warnings.

Set off from the country’s west coast only two hours after an eight-day launch window opened on Sunday morning, Pyongyang insisted the action was part of a peaceful space program and that it had successfully put a new Earth observation satellite into orbit.

But Susan Rice, US national security adviser, labelled the launch “reckless”.

“North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs represent serious threats to our interests including the security of some of our closest allies and undermine peace and security in the broader region,” she said in a statement.

“We condemn today’s launch and North Korea’s determination to prioritise its missile and nuclear weapons programs over the well-being of its people, whose struggles only intensify with North Korea’s diversion of scarce resources to such destabilising activities.”

According to North Korean state TV, the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite was now orbiting earth every 94 minutes.

The announcer added that North Korea – which carried out its fourth nuclear test last week – had a right to develop a “peaceful space programme” and that the satellite launch marked a “breakthrough in boosting our national defence capability”.

John Kerry, American Secretary of State, described it as a “provocation” and “destabilising” to peace. He said the US would work alongside the UN Security Council on “significant measures” to hold North Korea to account.

The rocket launched at around 9.30am Seoul time, and, according to Japan’s Fuji Television Network, a streak of light could be seen in the sky at China’s border with North Korea.

North Korea had notified UN agencies that it planned to launch a rocket carrying an Earth observation satellite, but the move was seen by opposition governments as a long-range missile test.

 

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