U.S. Calls for Strong Response to North Korean Rocket Launch

Claiming it was a satellite launch, North Korea fired a rocket
on Sunday that flew at least 2,000 miles before crashing into the sea, doubling
the distance of a test in 1998.

World leaders, including President Obama, condemned the
launch but the United Nations did not take immediate action against North
Korea. Six-party talks over the country’s nuclear ambitions have stalled.

During a visit to Prague, President Obama said the U.N. should
respond with strong message and pledged to work of ridding the U.S. and the
world of nuclear weapons.

“They [North Korea] I think have taken a provocative
action that creates instability in their region and around the world,” Mr.
Obama said, according to Reuters. “We intend to work with the
international community to deliver a strong message.”

In his speech, President Obama presented a new plan for
America’s disarmament policy.

The U.N. Security Council met for an emergency session on
Sunday but decided to take no immediate action. The U.S., Japan, France and
Britain pushed for a resolution denouncing the test as a violation of sanctions
prohibiting North Korea from launching ballistic missiles.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said the U.S. will ask the United
Nations for a “clear and strong” response including a Security
Council resolution that would be binding under international law.

“We think that what was launched is not the issue; the
fact that there was a launch using ballistic missile technology is itself a
clear violation,” Rice said.

China and Russia are likely to veto any resolutions that
impose new sanctions, according to Reuters. Private meetings would continue
over the next few days.

While the U.S. military said the rocket, a Taepodong-2, did
not place object in orbit, North Korea claims it put a satellite into orbit
that is playing revolutionary songs as it circles the globe.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il insists the launch was a
success and the state-run media praised his leadership.

“Pride among North Koreans stemming from what they
believe to be a successful launch would help keep his regime intact … creating
a better atmosphere for Kim to hand over the power to his successor,” said
Koh Yu-hwan, a Dongguk University professor of North Korea studies as quoted by

South Korea and Japan, who both joined the U.S. in warning
North Korea not to proceed with the planned missile launch, spoke out against
the launch.

“North Korea’s reckless act of threatening regional and
global security cannot have any justification,” said South Korean President
Lee Myung-bak in a radio speech on Monday, the New York Times reported.

Japanese President Taro Aso said it was a move in violation
of the U.N. Security Council resolution that his country could not ignore,
according to the Voice of America. The rocket crossed over Japanese airspace
before it crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea’s last missile test of the Taepodong-2 in July
2006 blew up about 40 seconds after takeoff.