(From AFP| Reuters)

As North Korea confirmed its plan to launch  a satellite rocket somewhere in the middle of this month, US said such a move “argues even more strongly” for tougher U.N. sanctions following its nuclear test last month.

North Korea’s last satellite launch in 2012 triggered global outrage and UN condemnation

“I feel confident in telling you that the international community would regard a step like that by the North Koreans as just another irresponsible provocation and a clear violation of their international obligations,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a news briefing.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Daniel Russel said a launch, “using ballistic missile technology,” would be an “egregious violation” of North Korea’s international obligations.

“This argues even more strongly for action by the U.N. Security Council and the international community to impose real consequences for the destabilizing action that (North Korea) has taken and is taking,” Russel said.

He said it showed the need “to raise the cost to the leaders through the imposition of tough additional sanctions and of course by ensuring the thorough and rigorous enforcement of the existing sanctions.”

Russel said negotiations were “active” at the United Nations and that the United States and North Korea’s main ally China “share the view that there needs to be consequences to North Korea for its defiance and for its threatening behaviors.”

“Our diplomats are in deep discussion in New York about how to tighten sanctions, how to respond to violations,” he said.

Asked about China’s cautious response to U.S. calls for stronger and more effective sanctions on Pyongyang and Beijing’s stress on the need for dialogue, Russel said: “Yet another violation by the DPRK of the U.N. Security Council resolution, coming on the heels of its nuclear test, would be an unmistakable slap in the face to those who argue that you just need to show patience and dialogue with the North Koreans, but not sanctions.”

Earlier in the evening, the International Maritime Organisation said it had received a shipping warning from North Korea of its intention to launch an earth observation satellite between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25.

The dates suggest a launch aimed at coinciding with the birthday on February 16 of late leader Kim Jong-Il, father of current leader Kim Jong-Un.

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