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Obama, Rice Condemn North Korea’s Failed Missile Launch

April 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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JEFFREY BROWN: President Obama joined world leaders today denouncing North Korea’s rocket launch. In an interview with Telemundo, he said the international community would take further steps to isolate the country of the failed launch this morning. The president added that the North Koreans — quote — “don’t seem to be real good at firing missiles.”

We begin with this report from Angus Walker of Independent Television News.

ANGUS WALKER: The only rockets being launched that people in North Korea have been allowed to see today, as two giant statues of the first two presidents were unveiled, father, son. And the new young supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, was there to watch. The third in line in the Kim dynasty had hoped to be the first to successfully oversee a satellite launch. But that rocket broke up in midair just after liftoff.

This was meant to be a victory parade to celebrate the launch of the satellite. Instead, most people here have been told very little about the failure of the rocket, just a short line on the news that the satellite failed to reach orbit.

As the parade ended, I asked people what they thought about the rocket failure. At first, these women said they didn’t know much about it. Behind the camera, our government minder prompts them.

“We’re not disappointed,” they then say.

MAN: We are never disappointed.

ANGUS WALKER: The brief announcement on state TV said scientists were looking into why the satellite hadn’t made it into orbit, but blank screens in the press center where we had been promised we could watch the rocket taking off.

For five hours after the launch had been reported by South Korean media, officials in North Korea awkwardly refused to comment, a contrast to just days ago, when there had been open access to see final preparations.

James Oberg used to work for NASA.

JAMES OBERG, former NASA engineer: Looking at how they handle failure in the past has been to deny it. This time, at least they have admitted it. But it seems to me they have to find someone to blame, either foreign enemies, internal enemies, Mother Nature. There’s always a case of finding someone else to blame.

ANGUS WALKER: As darkness fell in the North Korean capital, people queued for free bowls of water. Tonight, there’s not much for the leadership to drink to.

MARGARET WARNER: The U.N. Security Council charged that the North Korean launch violated two sanctions resolutions from 2006 and 2009. Russia and China signaled they oppose any new sanctions, however.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, had this to say.

SUSAN RICE, United States ambassador to the United Nations: The United States’ view of this is quite clear. We have condemned the launch. We view it as a direct violation of Resolution 1718 and 1874. We think it’s important that the council respond credibly, and we will be working in that direction.