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North Korea rocket launch: Why China only 'expresses regret' (+video)

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The successful launch of the rocket, which appears to have put a satellite into orbit as planned, marks a major advance in Pyongyang’s program to build an intercontinental ballistic missile that might one day carry a nuclear weapon. Today's launch followed the failure of North Korea’s four previous efforts to make a multistage rocket fly.

Though North Korean media celebrated the event as an example of its peaceful use of space, the US condemned it as a violation of previous UN resolutions that ban North Korea from staging “any launch using ballistic missile technology.”

“The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences,” the White House said in a statement.

Can China do much at the moment?

Beijing, however, was more restrained. Mr. Hong said that his government “expressed regret” and noted that North Korea is “obliged to abide by the relevant (UN) resolutions.” But he refused to answer a reporter’s question as to whether Beijing regarded the launch as a violation of UN resolutions.

The UN imposed two sets of sanctions on North Korea, in 2006 and 2009, banning the sale of heavy military equipment, dual use items, and luxury goods, imposing financial sanctions on individual leaders and North Korean institutions, and allowing states to stop and search North Korean vessels believed to be violating sanctions.

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