Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 12:38 UK

Caution urged on N Korea response


North Korean state TV broadcasts video apparently showing Sunday's launch

Russia and China have called for a restrained world response to North Korea's controversial rocket launch.

Moscow said it was a cause for concern, but urged against "hasty conclusions", while China said Pyongyang had the right to a peaceful space programme.

Divisions at the UN Security Council are hampering talks over Sunday's test.

Pyongyang says the test was a success, putting a satellite into orbit which is now transmitting data and revolutionary songs. The US says the attempt failed.

American military sources say the rocket failed to fire its later stages and fell into the Pacific.

But analysts say the test was still partially successful and should increase North Korea's bargaining power at the negotiating table.

Sanctions threat

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, France, Russia, UK and China - met together with Japan in New York on Monday without coming to an agreement.

A further meeting is set for Tuesday, but correspondents say it may take days to reach a deal.

Washington and Tokyo are seeking a strong response, but Beijing and Moscow have called for "restraint" - although it is unclear exactly what this means.

A South Korean soldier watches news of the launch in Seoul on 5 April 2009

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by state media as saying that while the situation was "of major concern", Moscow wanted to look into it in more detail.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said this issue involved "a country's right to peaceful use of space".

"We believe the Security Council should respond in a prudent way," he said.

Earlier US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said North Korea's launch had "grave implications", and she called for the UN to adopt a "strong position" in response.

"North Korea ignored its international obligations, rejected the unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations."

The US, South Korea and Japan say the launch violates a UN Security Council resolution adopted in October 2006 which bans North Korea from carrying out ballistic missile activity.

The US envoy to the UN has called Pyongyang's move a "clear-cut violation of [resolution] 1718", while Tokyo said it was seeking a "clear, firm and unified" response.

But according to the BBC's Laura Trevelyan, at the UN headquarters in New York, China and Russia disagree that Pyongyang was in breach of the resolution.

The Japanese government, meanwhile, has said it would be considering possible new bilateral sanctions against North Korea over the course of the next few days.


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