UNITED NATIONS — A senior North Korean diplomat warned Tuesday that Pyongyang will retaliate with "strong steps" if the U.N. Security Council takes action against its rocket launch, insisting that his country sent up a peaceful satellite and not a missile.
North Korea's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Pak Tok Hun accused the Security Council of being "undemocratic" by targeting the reclusive communist nation while allowing many other countries to launch satellites.
The United States identified the rocket launched by North Korea on Sunday as a Taepo-dong 2 missile that failed to achieve orbit but traveled 1,900 miles — twice as far as anything the North previously sent up — before landing in the Pacific Ocean. North Korea says the rocket launch shot a satellite into space.
"This is satellite," Pak insisted. "Everyone can distinguish satellite with a missile. It's not a missile. I know most of the countries they understand, and they now recognize it was not missile."
President Barack Obama and other world leaders insist the launch violated a 2006 Security Council resolution that barred the North from ballistic missile activity after it tested a nuclear weapon and insist the council must deliver a strong response. The Pyongyang government said it was exercising its right to peaceful space development.
Pak said the Security Council has never taken action against another country for launching a satellite, "but we're not allowed to do that — that is not democratic."