United Nations Security Council has expressed 'serious concern' after Pyongyang test-fired 6 missiles between April and June
The United Nations Security Council on Friday strongly condemned four North Korean ballistic missile launches in July and August, dubbing them "grave violations" of a ban on all ballistic missile activity.
The council expressed "serious concern" that North Korea carried out the launches after six ballistic missile firings between April and June "in flagrant disregard" of its repeated statements to halt such launches as well as nuclear tests which violate council resolutions.
UN vows significant measures
In a press statement approved by all 15 members, the council deplored the fact that the North's ballistic missile activities are contributing to its development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and increasing tensions.
Council members agreed to "continue to closely monitor the situation and take further significant measures," said the statement, without elaborating.
It urged all UN member states "to redouble their efforts" to implement sanctions against Pyongyang, including the toughest measures in two decades imposed by the council in March.
N.Korea hit by 5 sets of UN sanctions
North Korea has been hit by five sets of UN sanctions since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006.
It has repeatedly flouted Security Council resolutions demanding an end to its nuclear and ballistic missile activities and has continued to launch missiles, escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the region.
In March, the council adopted the toughest sanctions resolution to date, targeting North Korea's trade in minerals and tightening banking restrictions.
The council met behind closed doors on Wednesday after North Korea launched a missile from a submarine towards Japan, the latest provocation from Pyongyang.
This came days after the US and South Korea began military exercises, prompting North Korean threats of retaliation for the military drills, which it views as a rehearsal for invasion by the US and other adversaries.
The Security Council statement condemned the August 23 launch as well as the North's ballistic missile launches on August 2 and July 18 and the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile on July 9.
N Korea submarine missiles not ready until 2018: experts
North Korea is making progress on a submarine-launched ballistic missile system but any deployment of the technology is years away, a US think tank said, as the UN Security Council promised action over Pyongyang's latest test.
The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said yesterday on its closely-watched website, 38 North, that the success of North Korea's SLBM test this week suggests the program may be progressing faster than originally expected.
"However, this does not mean it will be ready next week, next month, or even next year", it said.
"Rather, the pace and method of the North's SLBM testing would suggest possible deployment in an initial operational capability by the second half of 2018 at the earliest."
The missile, launched from a submerged prototype "Gorae-class" submarine near the northeastern port of Sinpo, flew 500 kilometres towards Japan, marking what weapons analysts called a clear step forward for its nuclear strike ambitions.
(WION with inputs from agencies)