UN extends NKorea expert panel, approves missile probe

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WASHINGTON

The UN Security Council on Friday reportedly extended the mandate of a panel of experts evaluating sanctions on North Korea, and asked for an investigation into the secretive country’s ballistic missiles program. 

The UN voted unanimously to approve the measures, The Associated Press reported, shortly after the North fired off a pair of short-range ballistic missiles earlier this week, and launched at least one other over the weekend.

The launches marked the first since US President Joe Biden assumed office in January. He issued a stern warning to the country on Thursday, saying “there will be responses” should Pyongyang choose to escalate while also offering an opportunity for talks.

“We will respond accordingly. But I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned on the end result of denuclearization,” he said at the White House.

North Korea is banned from developing ballistic missiles under Security Council resolutions and council members said the expert panel should investigate this week’s launches, according to the AP.

The UN’s North Korea sanctions committee held a closed session earlier Friday at the US’s request.

Norway, which chairs the committee, said after the meeting it “condemns DPRK’s recent ballistic missile launches. Sanctions need to be implemented.”

“#NorthKorea must enter into meaningful dialogue and take concrete steps towards denuclearization,” the country’s UN mission said on Twitter.

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