North Korea missile tests endanger shipping, UN maritime agency told

The truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas

LONDON (Reuters) - North Korean missile tests are endangering the safety of commercial shipping in busy sea lanes in northeastern Asia without enough time given for notification, several countries told a UN agency on Wednesday.

Nuclear-armed North Korea's sixth satellite launch on Wednesday ended in failure, with the booster and payload plunging into the sea, but it still prompted emergency alerts and evacuation warnings in parts of South Korea and Japan.

A resolution adopted by a majority of over 100 countries attending the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) security committee, "strongly" condemned the missile tests "which seriously threatened the safety of seafarers and international shipping".

North Korea rejected the resolution and a paper submitted by countries including the United States, South Korea and Japan. It said in response in that the missile tests "constitute routine and planned self-defensive measures taken by a sovereign state to defend the national security".

"(North Korea) is not in a position to be able to provide prior notification of its military exercises and self-defensive measures," it said a submission to the IMO committee.

North Korea added that the missile launches were "based on the accurate scientific calculation and consideration of their point of impact and the routes of ships voyaging in the waters".

The paper was also submitted by Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Ukraine, Britain and Vanuatu.

(Reporting by Jonathan Saul; editing by Grant McCool)