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Seoul considering ‘all options’ to stop N.K. rocket launch

(Yonhap News)
(Yonhap News)
Measures could include referring the issue to U.N. Security Council: report

The Foreign Ministry said the government is considering “all possible options” to pressure North Korea to abandon its plan to launch a satellite using a long-range missile in April.

The government is likely to seek the cooperation of the U.N. Security Council members to refer the North’s missile issue to the U.N. Security Council, if the North goes ahead with its plan, a Korean news report said Tuesday.

“All options are open. But at the current stage, there is no further detail under a review that I can explain,” ministry spokesperson Cho Byung-jae told reporters.

Other news reports said the U.S. might seek another financial sanction on North Korea.

Seoul’s reviewing countermeasures against the North comes after President Lee Myung-bak said on Monday that South Korea will work closely with the U.S., Japan, China, Russia and EU about the matter through bilateral talks, on the sideline of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on March 26-27.

The permanent council members are the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K. and France. It is likely to be the U.S. who refers to the issue if the North shoots a satellite, observers said.

However, it is unclear whether China would support the move, an analyst said.

“If the North keeps claiming that its satellite launch has a ‘peaceful purpose,’ China will find it hard to override the North’s stance and support the U.S. at the council,” said Woo Jung-yeop, research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

China raised concerns over the North’s planned rocket launch but asked the South to remain calm, at the same time.

South Korean government officials have been repeatedly saying that the North’s planned launch of Kwangmyongsong-3 will directly violate the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874, which bans any launch using ballistic missile technology.

When asked Russia and China also agree that satellite launch equals to the missile launch, the U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said yes.

“We haven’t seen any divergence in the international understanding that a satellite launched with ballistic missile technology is a violation of U.N. sanctions, particularly the U.N. resolution,” she said.

Meanwhile, Japan on Tuesday scaled up pressure on Pyongyang to withdraw the satellite launch plan.

The Japanese government said it might deploy missile interceptors and Aegis ships in Okinawa area, a similar move that it took when the North launched a long-range missile in 2009, Asahi Shinbun said.

By Kim Yoon-mi (