US urges UN condemnation of North Korea missile launches
The UN Security Council has held an emergency meeting on North Korea's test-firing of two ballistic missiles, with US Ambassador Samantha Power calling for "urgent and united condemnation".
The US and Japan, after consulting with South Korea, requested a closed-door briefing from the UN Secretariat on the North's reported firing of the two mid-range missiles.
One flew about 620 miles high, after five failed launches in recent months.
Ms Power told reporters North Korea's repeated defiance of international law "underscores how important it is for us to come together to ensure consequences for this inherently destabilising behaviour, and this inherent and consistent and repeated threat to international peace and security".
The Security Council, which has imposed five rounds of sanctions on the North, strongly condemned three previous missile launches on June 1, calling them "a grave violation" of a ban on all ballistic missile activity that contributed to the country's nuclear weapons programme.
The latest sanctions imposed by the council on March 2 were the toughest on North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at what Pyongyang claims was its first hydrogen bomb test on January 6 and a subsequent rocket launch in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity.
The sanctions include mandatory inspections of cargo leaving and entering North Korea by land, sea or air; a ban on all sales or transfers of small arms and light weapons to Pyongyang; and the expulsion of diplomats from the North who engage in "illicit activities".
Ms Power said united condemnation from the UN's most powerful body is a first step "but we're again looking to ensure accountability - looking to identify again individuals, entities who may be responsible for this repeated series of tests that pose such a threat to international peace and security".
Those individuals and entities would be added to the sanctions blacklist.
A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the launch "a brazen and irresponsible act," and "a deliberate and very grave violation of its international obligations".