Security Council meets on North Korea tests without action

·2-min read
A man walks past a television screen at a Seoul train statino showing footage of a North Korean rocket launch on March 26, 2021

The UN Security Council on Tuesday met to discuss North Korea's latest missile launches but did not take any immediate action, although the United States said the world body was considering new measures.

No statement came from the Security Council or from the European nations after the half-hour, closed-door meeting, a contrast with a year ago when five European nations condemned earlier tests as "provocative."

A diplomat said there were "concerns expressed by a majority of members" during Tuesday's meeting and renewed calls for denuclearization, although no statement was planned.

North Korea had already denounced the meeting, which was called by Britain, Estonia, France, Ireland and Norway.

In a statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, senior foreign ministry official Jo Chol Su accused the Security Council of a "double standard" and said that countries around the world "are firing all kinds of projectiles."

North Korea last week launched two weapons assessed by the United States and others to be short-range ballistic missiles, which it is banned from under Security Council resolutions.

The United States has been careful in its statements on North Korea, with President Joe Biden warning of consequences but also saying that Pyongyang can choose diplomacy.

Instead of seeking a Security Council meeting, Washington referred the launches to its sanctions committee for assessment.

"We held a committee meeting on sanctions and we're looking at additional actions that we might take here in New York," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters on Monday.

She did not specify any measures. North Korea has demanded the lifting of earlier UN sanctions, a sticking point that scuttled the second summit between Kim Jong Un and former US president Donald Trump, who made the landmark decision to meet the North Korean strongman.

Biden sharply criticized Trump's made-for-television summits with Kim and is expected to favor lower-level dialogue.

Russia, which along with China enjoys cordial relations with Pyongyang, warned against any new sanctions on North Korea.

"It's a time of assessment, not action," deputy Russian ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters.

"We welcome any kind of dialogue -- bilateral or multilateral."

"We hope that there will be no tensions in the Korean Peninsula and that all sides will refrain from provocative acts and provocative rhetoric which doesn't help," he said.

prh/sct/ft