International Community Condemns North Korean Rocket Launch

Posted April 13th, 2012 at 6:40 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has joined international leaders in condemning North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket that crashed into the sea shortly after liftoff on Friday.

Mr. Ban said that despite the failure of the launch, the action was “deplorable” and goes against the “firm and unanimous stance of the international community.”

The White House also criticized the failed launch. Press Secretary Jay Carney said the move threatens regional security and shows that Pyongyang prefers “wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry.”

Western nations are likely to push for further condemnations against North Korea when the U.N. Security Council takes up the issue on Friday . But observers say further sanctions against the isolated country are unlikely.

South Korea said the launch is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions barring North Korea from conducting ballistic missile tests. Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan said Seoul is looking to respond with “counter measures.”

“Our government strongly condemns North Korea for going ahead with the launch in disregard of the united calls from the international community that the launch plan be scrapped. North Korea should take full responsibility for this.”

Japanese Deputy Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said no debris from the rocket appeared to fall on Japanese territory. But he warned that Japan viewed the act as provocation.

“North Korea has pushed ahead with this launch despite repeated warnings by various countries not to proceed. It is undeniable that this act is an extreme provocation to our nation's security and safety.”

Japan's defense forces, along with the South Korean and U.S. militaries in the region, had deployed anti-missile batteries on land and at sea for a possible shootdown if the rocket flew over Japanese or South Korean territories.

Another Japanese official was quoted as saying Tokyo may consider economic sanctions against North Korea, depending on the response of the international community. The launch prompted emergency security meetings both in Seoul and Tokyo on Friday.

The Group of Eight industrialized nations put out a statement saying it would consider “taking measures” to respond to the launch, calling it a threat to regional security. The European Union also said the launch was a “dangerous and destabilizing action.”

China, one of North Korea's main strategic allies, called for restraint following the failed launch. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin on Friday urged all sides to “maintain calm” and refrain from doing anything “to harm peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”

Another one of North Korea's neighbors, Russia, criticized the launch. But officials there said Moscow opposes additional sanctions against North Korea, saying the issued should be solved exclusively through “diplomatic and political responses.”

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said North Korea can expect a strong response from the international community if it continues to develop its missile and nuclear capabilities. He also called on North Korea to suspend all missile and nuclear-related activity and to commit to re-engaging with the international community.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told the French news agency the action was “a violation of international obligations and will increase tensions on the Korean peninsula.” Westerwelle also said the United Nations Security Council must give a strong answer to this violation of international law.

North Korea has admitted that the rocket failed to enter orbit, to the surprise of some observers. A brief report on North Korean state television said scientists and other experts are working to identify what went wrong.

The crash of the missile is an embarrassment for North Korea's new leader Kim Jong Un, who rose to power following the December death of his father, Kim Jong Il. The rocket launch was meant to be the centerpiece of a month-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's founding leader, Kim Il Sung.

But on the streets of Pyongyang, citizens, such as Ko Kyong Hwa, said the news of the failed rocket launch would not affect their confidence in their inexperienced young leader.

“Even big countries like Russia and the U.S. only succeeded in launching a satellite after many failures. Although we failed to launch a satellite this time, I'm proud that we were able to try to launch a satellite. And I am sure that after this failure, we can gain strength and succeed in launching a satellite in the future.”

The launch upended more than one year of painstaking diplomacy aimed at achieving a resumption of six-nation talks to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in exchange for needed badly international aid.