North Korea rocket has most of US within reach: South official

A defense ministry official said on Tuesday Pyongyang’s three-stage rocket has an increased range of 12,000 kilometers, up by 2,000 kilometers in the Unha-3 rocket it launched in 2012.

South Korea also confirmed that the rocket, launched from the Dongchang-ri base in North Korea’s northwest, had put an object into orbit. The Yonhap had earlier said the rocket launch might have failed.

North Korea’s state television said the rocket successfully carried a satellite into space and vowed to launch more satellites in future. Pyongyang had earlier informed UN agencies about the launch.

Japan, South Korea and the United States are skeptical of such launches, which they say are a cover for banned tests of intercontinental missiles that could strike the US.

US, Asian allies to meet on North Korea launch

US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford is set to hold talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts this week to discuss Pyongyang’s rocket launch and expansion of trilateral military ties.

Army General Lee Sun-jin, chairman of the South Korean Joint Chief of Staff, is expected to participate via video teleconference in the meeting that will be held in Hawaii, home to US Pacific Command.

It is not known if Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, head of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, will attend the meeting or participate remotely.

In the wake of North Korea’s launch, Washington and Seoul announced that they would begin formal talks on deploying an advanced US missile defense system called THAAD to the Korean Penisula as soon as possible.

The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea for the launch and said it would soon adopt a sanctions resolution “in response to these dangerous and serious violations.”

The North is already under UN sanctions over launching missiles considered by the US and South Korea as ballistic and aimed at delivering nuclear warheads.

Sanctions not efficient: UN experts

The UN panel of experts, however, questioned the efficiency of decade-long anti-Pyongyang sanctions, saying such measures have so far failed to prevent the North from expanding its nuclear and missile programs.

Four sets of sanctions have been imposed on North Korea since it first tested an atomic device in 2006, but the panel said it found “no indications that the country intends to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

“Sanctions have not prevented the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from gradually improving and expanding its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities," read the report.

It said Pyongyang is placing “heightened emphasis” on its missile programs, developing short-range missiles, upgrading its launch facilities and scaling up development of its submarine-launched missile capabilities.

The experts, however, recommended imposing more sanctions on North Korean entities and individuals.

The Pyongyang government has pledged not to relinquish its nuclear deterrence unless the US ends its hostile policy toward the country and dissolves the US-led military command in South Korea.

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February 10, 2016 at 3:06 AM delete

The US has no right to complain.