The U.N. Security Council remained divided Monday over whether to condemn North Korea's launch of a spy satellite last week in violation of resolutions adopted by the panel in the past.

The key security panel of the world body has failed to take tangible action such as the adoption of a sanctions resolution or statement since December 2017 over Pyongyang's launches of projectiles using ballistic missile technology.

"(North Korea) is unabashedly trying to advance its nuclear weapons delivery systems," Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told a session Monday.

"And yet, there are two permanent members that have been unwilling to condemn this dangerous, escalatory launch and others like it," the U.S. envoy said, apparently referring to Russia and China that hold veto rights.

She also said, "A North Korean reconnaissance satellite has been confirmed in orbit."

North Korean Ambassador Kim Song defended the rocket launch on Nov. 21 to send a spy satellite into orbit, saying it was "to get a clear picture of the dire military moves of the U.S. and its followers."

"It is a legitimate and righteous exercise of the rights to self-defense which fully belongs to the legal sphere of our self-defense," Kim said.

The representatives from Russia and China said that military exercises involving the United States, South Korea and Japan near the Korean Peninsula have raised tensions in the region.

Kimihiro Ishikane, the Japanese top envoy at the United Nations, said, "We should not be deceived by any attempt to justify North Korea's ambition to pursue unlawful (weapons of mass destruction) programs.

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