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 criticized the North for defying “unified and strong” calls from the international community. Mr. Ban said he is concerned about the negative consequences the launch will have on peace and stability in the region.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the move risks “further destabilizing the Korean peninsula,” and called on North Korea to “fulfill their obligations under international law.”
The European Union, meanwhile, threatened fresh sanctions against Pyongyang. Foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that the EU is considering an “appropriate response,” including possible “additional restrictive measures.”
China, North Korea's main ally and biggest trading partner, expressed “regret” at the launch. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said Pyongyang should observe “relevant” U.N. resolutions, but said any Security Council resolution should be “prudent and moderate.”
An earlier editorial in China's official Xinhua news agency said North Korea has “the right to conduct peaceful exploration of the outer space,” warning all sides to remain calm.
The foreign ministry of Russia expressed “deep regret” over the move, saying it “flaunts the opinion of the international community.”
South Korean 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.
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.”