Japan, 7 others slam N. Korea missile firings in joint statement

NEW YORK (Jiji Press) — Eight countries including Japan, the United States and Britain released a joint statement Thursday condemning North Korea for its recent string of ballistic missile launches.

The countries, also including France, Albania, Brazil, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates, said that Pyongyang’s “unlawful behavior is a threat to international peace and security.”

“These launches demonstrate the regime’s determination to pursue weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs at all costs, including at the expense of its own people,” said the statement, released ahead of the day’s unofficial U.N. Security Council meeting over the missile firings.

On the occasion of an emergency meeting of the council Jan. 10, six of the eight nations, excluding Brazil and the UAE, issued a similar statement.

The Security Council itself stopped short of releasing a statement criticizing North Korea’s actions at the Thursday and Jan. 10 meetings.

Meanwhile, it was learned Thursday that China and Russia did not support the United States’ proposal to tighten U.N. sanctions against North Korea. The two countries have been calling for the sanctions to be eased.

At a meeting of the Security Council committee on North Korea sanctions Jan. 12, Washington called for the addition of five North Korean nationals to the sanctions list, in response to the reclusive country’s increased missile tests. The addition requires approval from all 15 member states of the committee.

“We have these sanctions for a reason, and for any member state to oppose putting sanctions … that have been agreed to by the entire Security Council gives, in my view, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) a blank check,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters Thursday, urging member states to firmly implement sanctions on the country.