| UNITED NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned on Friday North Korea's recent ballistic missile launches and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Pyongyang to "halt these inflammatory and escalatory actions."
North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile which flew about 800 km (500 miles) before hitting the sea, South Korea's military said on Friday, as the isolated state stepped up its defiance of tough new U.N. and U.S. sanctions.
North Korea also fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea earlier in March.
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned and expressed grave concern at the ballistic missile launches," the 15-member Security Council said in a statement after meeting on the issue.
The council also "stressed that all these launches were unacceptable," violated U.N. resolutions and posed a threat to regional and international security.
This month the Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on North Korea to starve it of money for its nuclear weapons program. The resolution drafted by the United States and Pyongyang's ally China was unanimously adopted.
"If anybody on the council needed a reminder of why that resolution is so important and why banding together to enforce international peace and security is so important, the north Korean regime just provided yet another one," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said ahead of the meeting.
The resolution followed North Korea's latest nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a Feb. 7 rocket launch that Washington and its allies said used banned ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang said it was a peaceful satellite launch.
"The situation on the Korean Peninsula, including the latest ballistic missile launches, is deeply troubling," Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Friday.
"We once again urge the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) to comply with its international obligations, including relevant Security Council resolutions," he said.
North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 because of its four nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mohammad Zargham, James Dalgleish and Bernard Orr)