The United States is joining the international community in condemning what it calls a “highly provocative” long-range rocket launch by North Korea.
National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor said in a statement that the launch threatens regional security and is in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions barring Pyongyang from ballistic missile technology.
Vietor vowed the U.S. will remain “vigilant in the face of North Korean provocation and fully committed to the security of our allies in the region.” He said Washington will work with the U.N. to pursue “appropriate action.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the rocket launch, saying it defies the “unified and strong call from the international community.” Mr. Ban said he is concerned about the “negative consequences” it will have on peace and stability in the region.
China, North Korea's main ally, has not given an official response. But a commentary in the official Xinhua news agency said the North should abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibiting its use of ballistic missile technology.
But Xinhua also said North Korea has “the right to conduct peaceful exploration of the outer space,” warning that all sides should remain “cool-headed.”
The North's neighbor South Korea “strongly condemned” the launch. Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said Pyongyang will have to bear “grave responsibility” and face deeper isolation from the international community.
Japan immediately quickly convened an emergency session of its security council to analyze the situation. Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Tokyo “cannot tolerate” the launch and has lodged a strong protest against North Korea.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague released a statement sharply criticizing the impoverished Communist country for choosing to “prioritize this launch over improving the livelihood of its people.”