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Japan seeks strong U.N. response on North Korea rocket
Tue Apr 7, 2009 2:40am EDT
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By Isabel Reynolds
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan called for a strong response on Tuesday from the U.N. Security Council to North Korea's rocket launch, which analysts say was a test of a long-range ballistic missile, but Tokyo acknowledged that divisions remained.
The five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- plus Japan met at U.N. headquarters on Monday to explore a possible compromise on a response to the launch, but reached no agreement.
They scheduled another meeting for Tuesday.
"All countries are agreed that a clear and firm response is needed. But the content is still under deliberation. Agreement has not been reached, there are various opinions," Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a news conference.
"The Japanese government continues to think it desirable for a new Security Council resolution to be passed. It is important for the Security Council to issue a strong and unified message," Kawamura said.
Japan's lower house of parliament passed a resolution on Tuesday calling on the international community to enforce sanctions against North Korea and urging Japan's government to impose additional measures.
Diplomats have said China and Russia would probably accept a Security Council warning to Pyongyang urging it to comply with U.N. resolutions and return to six-party talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear arms program. But they would be opposed to a binding resolution intended to punish Pyongyang.
"We have to create an environment that makes North Korea realize that its actions are having a negative effect," Japan's administrative reform minister Akira Amari told reporters on Tuesday, calling for sanctions to be enforced.
"The Security Council should share this view and our aim is to have them share this view," he said.
Analysts said Sunday's launch of the rocket, which flew over Japan during its 3,200 km (2,000 mile) flight, was effectively a test of a ballistic missile designed to carry a warhead as far as the U.S. state of Alaska.
The U.S. military and South Korea said no part of the Taepodong-2 rocket entered orbit, but analysts said the launch showed the impoverished North had greatly increased the range of its missiles even though it may be years away from building a missile to threaten the United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's defiance also grabbed global attention for his destitute state and bettered his hand in the often-employed negotiating strategy of using military threats to squeeze concessions from regional powers.
North Korea is likely to use the first successful launch of the Taepodong-2 to extract concessions for showing up at future six-party talks. Pyongyang also could seek to water down obligations it signed onto under previous negotiations.
"The core element in this situation is the six-party talks," Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said at U.N. headquarters on Monday. Continued...
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