UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea's  launch of ballistic missile from a submarine on Aug. 23, which followed a series of recent tests and launches that the Council said was a “grave violation” of the Pyongyang's international obligations and “in flagrant disregard” of repeated calls to halt such activity.

In a press statement issued Friday night, the 15-member Council also strongly condemned North Korea's ballistic missile launches conducted on Aug. 2 and July 18, and the launching of a submarine-launched ballistic missile by the country on July 8.  The statement was drafted by the United States and supported by China, an ally of North Korea. Deploring all ballistic missile activities by North Korea, including the most recent launches, the Council noted that such activities contribute to the country's development of nuclear weapons delivery systems and increase tensions.

The Council's members further regretted that North Korea is diverting resources to the pursuit of ballistic missiles while the country's citizens have great unmet needs.

They urged all UN member states "to redouble their efforts" to implement sanctions against Pyongyang, including the toughest measures in two decades imposed by the council in March.

Those sanctions reflected growing anger at Pyongyang's nuclear test in January and a subsequent rocket launch.

North Korea has repeatedly brushed aside Security Council resolutions demanding an end to its nuclear and ballistic missile activities and has continued to launch missiles, escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the region.

The latest submarine launch of a ballistic missile on Wednesday came days after the US and South Korea began military exercises, prompting North Korean threats of retaliation for the military drills, which it views as a rehearsal for invasion by the US and other adversaries.

South Korean officials said the submarine-launched missile flew about 500 kilometers, the longest distance achieved by the North for such a weapon. That means all of South Korea, and possibly parts of Japan, are within its striking distance.