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Further punishment possible over N. Korea's missile launches: S. Korean envoy

The United Nations would discuss additional measures to punish North Korea for its recent ballistic missile launches, a South Korean envoy to the international body said Thursday.

   Last week, the communist country fired off two medium-range Rodonng ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast, the first such launches in four years, in what appeared to be a show of force in defiance of ongoing Seoul-Washington military exercises.

   The move, which followed a series of short-range rocket launches, drew condemnation from the U.N. Security Council, where member countries denounced the North for violating its resolutions and agreed "to consult on an appropriate response."

   "There is a chance that the U.N. Security Council members will discuss further with regard to the North's Rodong missile launches, as they would feel the necessity of additional and stronger measures in response to the North's threatening actions," Oh Joon, South Korea's permanent representative to the U.N., told reporters in Seoul.

   According to diplomats, ballistic missile launches are banned under the Security Council resolutions adopted in response to Pyongyang's nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and last year.

   Stressing that the U.N. sanctions against the North are "effective," the diplomat said the U.N. will take additional sanctions "almost automatically" if the North conducts a nuclear test or fires long-range missiles.

   The existing sanctions mostly target the North's missile and nuclear programs and aim to punish the regime through a ban on luxury goods. (Yonhap)