UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council failed to agree Tuesday on a statement condemning North Korea’s launch of a missile that landed near Japan after China sought to include language opposing the US missile defence system in South Korea.
The US had circulated a draft statement that strongly condemned the August 2 launch and expressed particular concern that the ballistic missile landed near Japan.
Meanwhile, China, Pyongyang’s closest ally, said the missile tests have expanded since the bilateral decision between Seoul and Washington to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) battery to the region.
“If you look at the factors contributing to the tension in the Korean peninsula I think the answer is self-evident,” China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, said.
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, denied that deployment of THAAD provoked North Korean missile tests and reaffirmed that the antimissile system will protect the region.
“Any notion that there’s some predicate by anybody other than Kim Jong Un and the DPRK regime is not grounded in reality and it’s not grounded in history,” Power told reporters after the closed-door meeting, in reference to the North Korean leader.
As one of most advanced missile-defence systems in the world, THAAD interceptors are able to identify and obliterate incoming enemy threats both inside and outside of the atmosphere.
Last month, South Korea’s defence ministry said the THAAD will be located in Seongju, in the southeastern part of the country. In conjunction with the US, Seoul plans to have the unique air-defence system operational by the end of 2017.
Diplomats said negotiations on the council statement, which must be agreed by consensus, had reached a dead end. It was the second time in two months that the council has been unable to agree on condemnation of North Korea, due to objections from China.
The council last adopted a statement condemning North Korea for two medium-range missile tests on June 23. North Korea has been hit by five sets of UN sanctions since it first tested an atomic device in 2006.
The council in March adopted its toughest sanctions resolution to date, banning exports of coal, iron and other minerals from North Korea and imposing other restrictions, in particular in the banking sector.
According to South Korea’s UN ambassador, Oh Joon, North Korea has conducted 13 rounds of ballistic missile tests and has fired 29 various rockets.
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