BALASHIKHA: Russian air-defense systems deployed in the Far East are capable of shooting down missiles of the type recently launched by North Korea, the Air Force chief of staff said on Thursday.
Pyongyang on Sunday launched a multistage rocket that it said was carrying a communications satellite, defying pressure from the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries, which suspect the launch was a cover for the test of a Taepodong-2 long-range missile.
“Russia’s air defenses in the Far East are capable of shooting down missiles of the type launched by North Korea. As to the recent launch, our radars monitored the missile flight for about 15-20 seconds,” Lt. Gen. Vadim Volkovitsky said.
North Korea claimed the rocket, which was launched over Japan, successfully delivered a communications satellite into orbit, but the U.S. and South Korean militaries said all three stages fell into the ocean and “no object entered orbit.”
The 15-member UN Security Council convened for an emergency meeting last Sunday at Japan’s request, to discuss sanctions against Pyongyang over the rocket launch, but strong opposition from Russia and China prevented the adoption of even a preliminary statement of condemnation.
The United States and other countries argued for sanctions against Pyongyang, saying that the launch violated Security Council Resolution 1718, which was passed after North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test, but Russia and China called for restraint on the grounds that the resolution does not prohibit the launch of satellites.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated on Wednesday that Russia was concerned by Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch, but believed that imposing sanctions against North Korea would be counterproductive.