Obama Condemns North Korean Missile Launch
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 5, 2009 In Europe today, President Barack Obama strongly criticized last night’s missile launch by North Korea.
Yesterday evening, the North Koreans launched a three-stage missile that failed to achieve orbit and fell back into the Pacific Ocean without incident, according to the U.S. military.
Obama was in the Czech Republic today when he was informed of the missile launch. Obama told an audience in Prague that the North Korean missile launch was provocative and had violated UN international security rules.
“Once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles, this provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon at the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons,” Obama said.
“Rules must be binding; violations must be punished; words must mean something,” Obama continued. ”The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response.”
According to news reports, the UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the North Korean missile launch issue.
The missile passed over Japan but jettisoned no debris there, according to the U.S. Northern Command news release issued today.
The missile’s flight path had presented no threat to North America or Hawaii, the release stated.
The Taepodong 2 missile’s first stage fell into the Sea of Japan; the rest of the stages and the payload, reportedly a communications satellite, landed in the Pacific Ocean, according to the release. The North Koreans say the rocket had successfully placed the satellite into orbit, according to news reports.
During his visit to Europe, President Barack Obama reportedly said in Prague after hearing of the launch that North Korea’s missile launch was provocative and violated UN international security rules, according to news reports.
Any North Korean missile launch would have a negative impact on efforts to lessen tensions in the region, a U.S. State Department official told reporters in the days leading up to last night’s launch.
The North Koreans have insisted that their Taepodong 2 missile launch is for peaceful purposes. North Korea’s neighbors South Korea and Japan were alarmed at the possibility of another launch. The North Koreans conducted an unsuccessful missile launch in 2006 when their rocket briefly passed over Japanese territory.
Another North Korean missile launch “would be counterproductive” to soothing tensions in the region, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters at an April 2 news conference in Washington, D.C.
International diplomats have employed Six-Party Talks to persuade North Korea to jettison its nuclear weapons program. Arms control experts believe that a nuclear-armed North Korea would ratchet up tensions and prompt a nuclear-arms race across the region.