The US is among 14 countries denouncing Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch as a ‘dangerous escalation’.

A divided United Nations Security Council has condemned North Korea’s recent launch of a intercontinental ballistic missile but stopped issuing a formal statement due to opposition from China and Russia, diplomats said.

The United States, Britain, France and India were among 14 countries “strongly condemning” Friday’s launch. The missile landed about 200 km (125 mi) from the Japanese coast and would have the range to reach the US mainland.

“This represents a serious escalation and poses an unequivocal threat to international peace and security,” the countries said in a joint statement after a Security Council meeting on Monday.

They urged the council to limit the progress of North Korea’s weapons programs.

North Korea has exported an unprecedented number ballistic missile launches this year has sparked condemnation and concern in both neighboring countries and Washington.

But Pyongyang has long defended ballistic missile launches as a legitimate defense against what it calls a decades-old threat from the US and its allies in South Korea. Friday’s launch took place shortly after it landed warned of “firmer military responses” to Washington.

“Kim Jong Un solemnly declared that if the enemies continue to pose threats, … our party and government will respond decisively to nuclear weapons and to all-out confrontation with all-out confrontation,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.

North Korea’s foreign minister on Monday accused UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of siding with Washington and failing to maintain his impartiality and objectivity. Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang has the right to develop weapons for self-defense.

The US has been for months pressure on the Security Council to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea for conducting a barrage of missile tests. The council has passed nearly a dozen resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and missile activities since 2006.

A senior US official said this month that Washington believes China and Russia have leverage to convince North Korea not to resume nuclear tests, and US President Joe Biden told his Chinese counterpart last week that Beijing has an obligation to try.

On Monday, China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jun said Beijing was “concerned” about the “upward spiral of rising tension and increasing confrontation” on the Korean peninsula, but said the Security Council should help ease tensions and not always Pyongyang. to condemn or pressure.

He said the US should take the initiative and make realistic proposals to address North Korea’s “legitimate concerns”.

“All sides should remain calm, exercise restraint, act and speak with caution, and avoid actions that could escalate tensions and lead to miscalculations, to avoid the situation spiraling into a vicious circle,” Zhang said.

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Anna Evstigneeva accused the US of trying to force North Korea into unilateral disarmament through sanctions and coercion and blamed the missile tests on military exercises by Washington and his allies.

For her part, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said it is vital that the 15-member Security Council respond with one voice, accusing Beijing and Moscow of “encouraging” Pyongyang by blocking actions.

“The blatant obstruction of these two members endangers the Northeast Asian region and the whole world,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield also said the US planned to submit a presidential statement to the Security Council to hold North Korea “accountable for its dangerous rhetoric and its destabilizing actions”.

A spokesman for the US mission to the UN said the president’s draft statement will be shared with the Security Council shortly and negotiations will follow.

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