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6 Apr, 2009 09:36

UN Security Council split over North Korean ‘satellite’ launch

The UN Security Council has failed to adopt a resolution condemning North Korea's launch of what it said was a rocket carrying a satellite on Sunday, Russia’s Ria Novosti news agency reports.

The 15-member Security Council held an emergency meeting at Japan's request, but strong opposition from Russia and China prevented the adoption of even a preliminary statement of condemnation.

The US, Japan, and their allies argued for sanctions against Pyongyang, saying that the launch violated Security Council Resolution 1718, which was passed after North Korea's 2006 nuclear test, but Moscow and Beijing called for restraint on the grounds that the resolution does not prohibit the launch of satellites under its space program.

Moscow and Beijing expressed concern that any action against Pyongyang may increase tensions and force North Korea to withdraw from talks on denuclearization.

The Security Council members are to meet again on Monday to continue talks on issue.

North Korea launched the multistage rocket Unha-2, which it said was carrying the communications satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 on Sunday morning. The United States, Japan and South Korea and other countries refute that and suspect the launch was a cover for the test of the Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

Pyongyang claimed the rocket, which was launched over Japan, had successfully delivered a communications satellite into orbit, but the US and South Korean militaries said all three stages fell into the ocean and ‘no object entered orbit’.

Russia also fails to find North Korean satellite

Despite Russia opposing harsh measures against Pyongyang, Russia’s space control system also could not find the North Korean satellite in orbit either .

“Our space control system has not registered the placement of the North Korean satellite into orbit. According to our data, it simply is not there,” a high-ranking source with the Russian General Staff told Interfax.

North Korea to continue launches

Meanwhile, North Korean newspapers report that Pyongyang is planning to continue launching satellites, AFP news agency reports.

The newspapers cite a high-ranked North Korean official, who said that, after the ‘outstanding historic achievement’ like Sunday’s launch, the country is planning to put several more satellites into orbit for ‘peaceful purposes’.