South Korean president Park Geun-hye spoke with U.S. president Barack Obama Tuesday and agreed to cooperate with Washington to implement strong sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear test last month and the long-range rocket launch Sunday. The latest discussion between the two leaders came as a report citing a U.S. official stated that the North Korean satellite was “tumbling in orbit.”
Park spoke to Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Tuesday, and the leaders agreed to work for “strong and effective” sanctions from the United Nations Security Council against Pyongyang, Reuters reported.
“The two leaders (Park and Obama) agreed for the two countries to cooperate closely for the adoption of strong and effective sanctions resolutions as a united response by the international community against the North's nuclear test and a rocket launch using ballistic missile technology,” South Korean presidential office said, according to Reuters. A report by Yonhap said that the two countries should also put pressure on Pyongyang.
While the international ramifications of the rocket launch are increasing against North Korea, the CNN report said, citing a senior U.S. defense official, that rocket itself is incapable of functioning in a useful way. The official also said that based on the rocket’s trajectory over the Yellow Sea, it “did not pose a threat to the U.S. or our allies.”
A report Tuesday by Yonhap cited the South Korean Defense Ministry to confirm that the satellite had reached orbit, but said that it could not verify if it was functioning normally. The report added that the latest launch of the Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite would lead to the presumption that Pyongyang possesses a long-range missile with a range of over 7,400 miles. However, North Korea is not believed to have mastered the critical "re-entry" technology, which is needed to bring the missile back into the atmosphere.
North Korea has so far called the launch a “complete success” and has reportedly added that the launch was for scientific and “peaceful purposes.” However, Park has since called the launch a “challenge to world peace,” CNN reported, while Washington and Seoul try to send an advanced U.S. missile defense system to South Korea in the “earliest possible” time. The international community views the launch as a cover to test North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile.
Despite criticism from the international community, including China, North Koreans celebrated the launch. "We hope that the future of our space technology keeps growing and shines like these fireworks in the sky," an announcer for a North Korean broadcaster reportedly said.
The rocket launch was also followed by a North Korean patrol boat trespassing the maritime border on the Yellow Sea Monday, triggering five rounds of warning shots by the South Korean Navy. The South Korean military was put on high alert and surveillance near Northern Limit Line, the disputed maritime border not recognized by Pyongyang, was increased.
The South Korean Embassy in Beijing also issued a travel advisory warning its citizens to be careful while visiting China and its border regions with North Korea. “To cope with the possibility of instability on the Korean Peninsula after North Korea's missile launch, those who are visiting China or living in China should be mindful of their safety,” the embassy said, according to Yonhap.