North Korea Goes Ahead With Missile Launch

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
As the international community feared, North Korea has launched a long-range missile over Japan. As a result, Japan immediately called for emergency U.N. Security Council consultations on Sunday to deal with the launch, to condemn North Korea, and to possibly strengthen sanctions on Pyongyang.

A spokesman for the U.N. Secretary General, Brent Superville, confirmed to CBS News that Japan has requested to have emergency Security Council consultations in New York at 3:00 p.m. (EST).

President Obama released a statement from Prague, saying that "North Korea's development and proliferation of ballistic missile technology pose a threat to the northeast Asian region and to international peace and security."

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
(left: South Korean protesters scuffle with police during a rally against North Korea's missiles near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, April 5, 2009.)

Entering the debate which will be discussed at the U.N. about whether the launch involved a communications satellite (which North Korea alleges) or a ballistic missile (which the West suspects), President Obama said, "The launch today of a Taepo-dong 2 missile was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which expressly prohibits North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities of any kind."

Whether or not the Security Council votes to further condemn the government of Kim Jung Il in North Korea will depend on whether the rocket launched was a ballistic missile, which was banned by the 2006 U.N. Resolution (1718), or if it was a communications satellite, which is allowed by international treaties.

Regardless of the response, the intent of the U.S., stated by President Obama, is to get the North Korean government back to the six-party talks, which includes the two Koreas, Japan, China, the U.S. and Russia — and ultimately to get the government of Pyongyang back to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, from which it withdrew.

Curiously, U.S. relations with North Korea seemed to be on track when the North Korean government destroyed part of its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon and the U.S. took North Korea off the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. But it appears that North Korea decided to go ahead with the launch in defiance of the demands of the international community.

Weighing in on the crisis, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he "regrets that, against strong international appeal, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) went ahead with its planned launch. Given the volatility in the region, as well as a stalemate in interaction among the concerned parties, such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability.

"The Secretary-General urges DPRK to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, and all countries concerned to focus on ways to build confidence and restore dialogue, including the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks. The Secretary-General will lend his full support to these efforts."

The U.N. Security Council consultations on Sunday will negotiate what type of statement of condemnation it produces — either a Presidential Statement (Mexico is the President of the Council this month) or a stronger U.N. Security Council Resolution. That will depend in large part on the five permanent members of the Council and the goodwill from Russia and China, garnered by President Obama at the G20 meetings.

Reported by CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk, based at the U.N.

  • Pamela Falk

    Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.