The UN Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea's latest ballistic missile test and vowed to take further measures including sanctions in response to Pyongyang's "highly destabilizing behavior." In a unanimous statement backed by China, the council yesterday stressed the importance of North Korea "immediately showing sincere commitment to denuclearization through concrete action." Council members demanded that North Korea "conduct no further nuclear and ballistic missiles tests," in what appeared to be a final warning to North Korea before a new wave of sanctions could be adopted. The adoption of the US-drafted statement came ahead of an emergency closed-door session of the council called by the United States and Japan to discuss the missile launch. North Korea on Sunday tested what appears to be its longest-range ballistic missile to date, saying it was capable of carrying a "heavy nuclear warhead." Pyongyang has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of last year in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. The Security Council adopted two sanctions resolutions last year to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang and deny leader Kim Jong-Un the hard currency needed to fund his military programs. In all, six sets of sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006. In the statement, all members including China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, "vowed to fully implement all measures imposed" on North Korea and to "strongly urge" other countries to follow suit. That signaled a new phase in applying sanctions that curb exports of coal from North Korea, impose severe restrictions on banking and ban sales of luxury goods and equipment that could be of use to the military. The council expressed its "utmost concern" over North Korea's "highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance of the Security Council." UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Pyongyang over the missile launch and urged it return to denuclearization. "This action is in violation of Security Council resolutions and a threat to peace and security in the region," Guterres said in a statement issued by his spokesman. Under UN resolutions, North Korea is barred from developing nuclear and missile technology. The United States is also in talks with China on a possible new sanctions resolution that would ratchet up the pressure on Pyongyang. "There's a lot of sanctions left that we can start to do, whether it's with oil, whether it's with energy, whether it's with their maritime ships, exports," US Ambassador Nikki Haley told ABC television's "This Week." "We can do a lot of different things that we haven't done yet.
So our options are there." The council is expected to discuss the next steps during its meeting starting around 2000 GMT.
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