SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea warned Wednesday of “searing” consequences if North Korea doesn’t abandon plans to launch a long-range rocket that critics call a banned test of ballistic missile technology.

The South’s rhetoric about unspecified harsh consequences comes less than a month after North Korea’s defiant fourth nuclear test and as diplomats at the U.N. work on strong new sanctions against the North.

North Korea on Tuesday informed global organizations of its plans to launch an Earth observation satellite on a rocket between Feb. 8 and 25, and if North Korea’s past patterns are any clue, angry warnings by its neighbors and Washington won’t dissuade a coming launch.

The launch declaration, which is meant to warn civilians, shipping and aircraft in the area about the rocket and falling debris, follows North Korea’s disputed claim on Jan. 6 to have tested a hydrogen bomb, the country’s fourth nuclear test.

South Korean and U.S. officials said the launch would threaten regional security and violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban the country from engaging in any ballistic activities.

“We warn that if North Korea proceeds with a long-range missile launch, the international society will ensure that the North pays searing consequences for it as the launch would constitute a grave threat to the Korean Peninsula, the region and the world,” senior South Korean presidential official Cho Tae-yong said in televised remarks.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged North Korea “to refrain from using ballistic missile technology and work for peace and stability.”

In Washington, Daniel Russel, the top diplomat for East Asia, said a launch “would be an unmistakable slap in face to those who argue that you just need to show patience and dialogue with the North Koreans but not sanctions,” in an apparent reference to North Korea’s ally China.

China urged restraint Wednesday over North Korea’s announcement of its launch plans, and expressed skepticism over the U.S. calls for tough new sanctions.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.