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UN condemns North Korea’s rocket launch

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution condemning North Korea’s rocket launch in December and imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang’s space agency.

The multi-stage rocket launch that put a satellite into orbit is considered part of a covert program to develop ballistic missiles that can carry warheads.

The council reiterated its previous demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible manner” and cease launches.

China joined in approving the resolution, the first in four years to expand the sanctions regime on North Korea.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the new resolution contains “important new sanctions on its companies and government agencies, including North Korea’s space agency, which was responsible for the launch, a bank and on North Korean individuals. It also updates current lists of nuclear and ballistic missile technology banned for transfer” to and from North Korea.

Washington negotiated with Beijing over the weekend to adopt a compromise on a resolution. China’s endorsement is a step away from the protection it usually gives to North Korea, its neighbor, which it defended in the Korean War in the early 1950s against U.S.-led U.N. troops.

China is seen as North Korea’s closest ally, and its protection of Pyongyang meant that the Security Council previously denounced North Korea’s launches with non-binding council statements, which are unenforceable.

“We believe that action taken by the Council should be prudent, measured, proportionate, and conducive to stability,” Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong said after the vote.

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