North Korea warned of "strong steps" if the United Nations censures its rocket launch, hours after releasing triumphal footage of what Pyongyang says is part of a peaceful space programme. The United States and its allies are pushing for a strong Security Council response to what they see as a provocative long-range missile test in defiance of past resolutions, but face opposition from China, Russia and other members.
Pak Tok-Hun, North Korea's deputy UN ambassador, said that if the 15-member council "takes any kind of steps whatever, we will consider this infringes upon the sovereignty of our country. The next option will be ours." He told reporters the communist state would take "necessary and strong steps" following any censure motion. The North has warned previously that it will walk out of long-running six-nation nuclear disarmament talks in response to any UN action.
"Every country has the inalienable right to use outer space peacefully," Mr Pak insisted, pointing out that many countries had already launched satellites into space several hundred times. He said that if it was all right for them to launch satellites, "but we are not allowed to do that, that's not fair." Mr Pak insisted that the three-stage Taepodong-2 rocket launched on Sunday carried a satellite and not a missile. "This is a satellite. Everyone can distinguish (between) a satellite and a missile," he added.
China, the North's sole major ally, earlier in the day said Pyongyang had the right to the peaceful use of space. A foreign ministry spokeswoman urged other nations to respond calmly "so as to jointly safeguard the peace and stability of the region and promote the six-party talks." The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said world powers should "avoid any hasty conclusions" over the launch. With the world body split, the United States has hinted it may not insist on a binding resolution.
As the diplomatic wrangling continued in New York, the impoverished North released film footage of what it terms an "historic" achievement ? despite a price tag of 500 million dollars put by one Seoul analyst on the satellite programme. * AFP