N Korea fires missiles after UN imposes tough sanctions
SEOUL – Agence France-Presse
A smoke bomb explodes near a South Korean army K-1 tank during an annual exercise in Yeoncheon, near the border with North Korea, Thursday, March 3, 2016. AP PhotoNorth Korea fired six short-range projectiles into the sea March 3 in a show of defiance just hours after the United Nations adopted the toughest sanctions to date on Pyongyang over its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch, and South Korean President Park Geun-hye vowed to “end tyranny” by the North’s leader.
Limited displays of military firepower have become a routine response by North Korea to international pressure over anything from its nuclear weapons program to its human rights record.
South Korea’s defense ministry said the six projectiles - either rockets or guided missiles - fell into the sea around 100-150 kilometers off the North’s eastern coast.
China’s foreign ministry responded by urging all parties to refrain from any actions that might see tensions escalate still further.
The launches came after the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution late March 2 imposing new sanctions after seven weeks of arduous negotiations between the United States and China, Pyongyang’s sole major ally.
All eyes are now on China and Russia to see if they fully enact the sweeping measures.
Park has been tough in her response to the North’s recent actions, moving from her earlier self-described “trustpolitik” approach, and on March 3 welcomed the move by the Security Council and repeated her call for the North to change its behavior.
“We will cooperate with the world to make the North Korean regime abandon its reckless nuclear development and end tyranny that oppresses freedom and human rights of our brethren in the North,” Park said at a Christian prayer meeting.
Also on March 3, South Korea adopted a long-delayed security law to set up an anti-espionage unit that was passed by parliament late on March 2, and another law aimed at improving human rights in North Korea.
North Korea offered no immediate statement on the U.N. sanctions, which break new ground, requiring all countries to inspect cargo destined for and coming from the North, in all airports and sea ports.
They also ban or restrict exports of coal, iron and iron ore and other minerals from North Korea, and prohibit the supply of aviation fuel including rocket fuel.
But analysts have pointed to several possible loopholes, including interpretations of what constitutes a proper cargo “inspection” and a provision that excludes mineral exports if their revenues are not deemed to be destined for military use.
North Korea earns about $1 billion per year in coal exports - a third of all export revenues - and about $200 million annually from iron ore sales, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the Security Council.
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the measures as “a firm, united, and appropriate response” to the Jan. 6 nuclear test and Feb. 7 rocket launch.
“The international community, speaking with one voice, has sent Pyongyang a simple message: North Korea must abandon these dangerous programs and choose a better path for its people,” Obama said.