United Nations (UN) Security Council strongly condemned four North Korean ballistic missile launches in July and August, calling them ‘grave violations’ of a ban on all ballistic missile activity.
A communiqué approved by all 15 members deplored the fact that the North's ballistic missile activities are contributing to its development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and increasing tensions.
The council expressed "serious concern" that North Korea carried out the launches after six ballistic missile firings between April and June "in flagrant disregard" of its repeated statements to halt such launches as well as nuclear tests which violate council resolutions.
It urged all UN member states "to redouble their efforts" to implement sanctions against Pyongyang, including the toughest measures in two decades imposed by the council in March.
Those sanctions reflected growing anger at Pyongyang's nuclear test in January and a subsequent rocket launch.
North Korea has repeatedly flouted Security Council resolutions demanding an end to its nuclear and ballistic missile activities and has continued to launch missiles, escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the region.
The latest submarine launch of a ballistic missile on Wednesday came days after the US and South Korea began military exercises, prompting North Korean threats of retaliation for the military drills, which it views as a rehearsal for invasion by the US and other adversaries.
South Korean officials said the submarine-launched missile flew about 500 kilometers, the longest distance achieved by the North for such a weapon. That means all of South Korea, and possibly parts of Japan, are within its striking distance.
The Security Council statement condemned the 23 August launch as well as the North's ballistic missile launches on 2 August and 18 July and the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile on 9 July.
China, a neighbor and ally of North Korea, had either blocked attempts by the United States and other council members to condemn the three previous attacks when they happened, or insisted on unacceptable language.
The council's agreement on Friday's statement, just two days after the latest North Korean test, reflects growing anger and concern at the North's continuing defiance of the council, including by China.