March 16, 2012 / 5:25 PM / in 6 years

U.N. chief urges North Korea to reconsider satellite launch

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged North Korea on Friday to think again about its plan to launch a satellite with a long-range rocket, saying he was “seriously concerned” by Pyongyang’s announcement.

“The Secretary-General urges the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) to reconsider its decision in line with its recent undertaking to refrain from long-range missile launches,” Ban’s office said in a statement.

North Korea said on Friday the satellite launch via long-range rocket would mark the centenary of founder Kim Il-sung’s birth next month, sparking condemnation from the United States and others that it was in breach of a U.N. resolution.

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, urged North Korea to comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions banning “any launch using ballistic missile technology.”

The North, which said recently it would suspend long-range missile testing as part of talks with the United States, pledged that next month’s launch would not affect neighboring countries.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters that such a rocket launch would likely be a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

“The position of the Security Council of course is that all Security Council resolutions must be abided by and if this launch goes ahead, our understanding is that it would be a violation of Security Council resolutions,” he said.

North Korea is currently under U.N. Security Council sanctions for its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests. Among the punitive measures the council imposed on Pyongyang is a ban on the import of nuclear and ballistic-missile technology.

Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Vicki Allen

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