- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s “flagrant and provocative defiance” of U.N. sanctions banning ballistic missile tests on Monday and again vowed to impose new sanctions in response to its latest launch.

All 15 council members, including the North’s closest ally China, approved the statement ahead of emergency closed consultations Tuesday where France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said a new sanctions resolution will be discussed.

He told reporters on Monday that France hopes the council will move ahead on a strong resolution that demands better implementation of existing sanctions and tougher new sanctions against North Korea.

The council statement, similar to previous condemnations, said North Korea’s “illegal ballistic missile activities are significantly contributing to its development of nuclear weapons delivery systems and are greatly increasing tension in the region and beyond.”

Council members vowed to “fully and comprehensively” implement the six rounds of sanctions the U.N.’s most powerful body has already imposed against North Korea and strongly urged all other U.N. member nations “to do so in an expeditious and serious manner.”

Last Friday, North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador Kim In Ryong told U.N. correspondents that the government will rapidly strengthen its nuclear strike capability as long as the United States maintains its “hostile policy” toward the country.

The North followed up with a weekend test-launch and declared Monday that it is ready to start mass-producing the new medium-range ballistic missile which it said is capable of reaching Japan and major U.S. military bases there. It called the missile an “answer” to U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies.

Kim, the North Korean envoy, told Friday’s news conference that if the Trump administration wants peace on the Korean Peninsula it should replace the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War with a peace accord and halt its anti-North Korea policy, “the root cause of all problems.”

The Security Council statement emphasized “the vital importance” of North Korea “immediately showing sincere commitment to denuclearization through concrete action.”

To reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, it demanded that Pyongyang halt nuclear and missile tests.

Council members reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula and in the region and expressed their commitment “to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation.”

They also welcomed efforts by council members and others to facilitate “a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.”

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