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North Korea launches rocket; White House calls act 'highly provocative'



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The U.N. Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on North Korea following its nuclear tests, and a 2009 resolution orders the North not to conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology.

The council condemned a failed North Korean launch in April and ordered seizure of assets of three North Korean state companies linked to financing, exporting and procuring weapons and missile technology.

At a glance

White House responds

The White House says North Korea’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile is a “highly provocative act that threatens regional security.”

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is calling the launch “another example of North Korea’s pattern of irresponsible behavior.”

In a statement released late Tuesday, Vietor says the U.S. “remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations.”

The United Nations, the U.S., South Korea and others see the launch as a cover for a test of technology for missiles that could be used to strike another nation with a nuclear warhead.

Vietor says the U.S. will work with other nations and the U.N Security Council “to pursue appropriate action” against North Korea.

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Under Security Council resolutions, nations are also barred from buying or selling weapons with North Korea, a key source of revenue for its authoritarian government.

North Korea has capable short- and medium-range missiles, but long-range launches in 1998, 2006, 2009 and in April of this year ended in failure. North Korea is believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen bombs, according to U.S. experts. In 2010 it revealed a uranium enrichment program that could provide a second source of material for nuclear weapons.

Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.

A February deal for the United States to provide 240,000 metric tons of food aid in exchange for a freeze in nuclear and missile activities collapsed after the North’s April launch.

North Korea said it chose a safe flight path so debris won’t endanger neighboring countries. Government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said Wednesday that no debris hit Japanese territory.




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