(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
UNITED NATIONS - Russia objected on Thursday to a United Nations Security Council condemnation of North Korea's latest rocket launch because the US-drafted statement referred to it as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), diplomats said.
Security Council statements have to be agreed by all 15-members. It was not immediately clear if the United States would continue to negotiate with Russia in an effort to reach a council consensus on a statement of condemnation.
Moscow has said it believes Pyongyang fired an intermediate range ballistic missile on Tuesday, while China has not identified the rocket launched. North Korea said it tested an ICBM and the United States said that was likely true.
"The rationale is that based on our (Ministry of Defense's) assessment we cannot confirm that the missile can be classified as an ICBM," Russia's UN mission said in an email to its Security Council colleagues.
"Therefore we are not in a position to agree to this classification on behalf of the whole council since there is no consensus on this issue," the email said.
The council met on Wednesday to discuss the missile launch by North Korea, which has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley denounced Russia's reluctance to recognize that North Korea had test-launched an ICBM, which some experts believe has the range to reach the US states of Alaska and Hawaii.
"If you need any sort of intelligence to let you know that the rest of the world sees this as an ICBM, I'm happy to provide it," she told the Security Council on Wednesday.
The draft statement said the council would start work on "further significant measures" against North Korea. Since 2006 the council has ratcheted up sanctions on Pyongyang in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches.
Haley said on Wednesday the United States would propose new UN sanctions in coming days and warned that if Russia and China did not support the move, then "we will go our own path." She said Washington was ready to use force "if we must."
"If you are happy with North Korea's actions, veto it. If you want to be a friend to North Korea, veto it," Haley said of her plan to propose new sanctions.