United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice joined the international community and the U.N. Security Council in condemning North Korea's three-stage rocket launch.
“[Tuesday’s] launch shows that despite the Security Council's clear requirements, North Korea is still determined to pursue its nuclear program without regard for its international obligations,” Ambassador Rice said Wednesday. “Members of the Council must now work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions have consequences.”
The test launch was North Korea’s second since President Kim Jong-un came to power following his father's death a year ago. The U.N. Security Council issued a statement after the last launch in April indicating that any launch of ballistic missile technology is a serious violation of two Security Council restrictions.
Rice reiterated the Council’s quick and clear condemnation of North Korea’s actions after Tuesday’s launch. "I've been through a number of similar Council sessions on North Korea and its provocative actions over the course of my tenure here. The statement that was issued today...is one of the swiftest and strongest--if not the swiftest and strongest--that this Council has issued," Rice said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the launch a “flagrant violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Carney emphasized the need to engage China, Russia, and others on the Security Council to build a united opposition to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
China, a usual ally and economic partner to North Korea, expressed its regret at the country’s decision to launch its missile “in spite of the extensive concerns of the international community," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday.
North Korea said this missile launch was an attempt to put a satellite into orbit. But U.S. officials called it a thinly veiled attempt to test a three-stage ballistic missile that would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as the West Coast of the United States.
"Given the failure of the last [April 2012] attempt, [North Korean President] Kim is really under pressure to make this launch a success. He knows the stakes are high either way, and it is really what he does next that matters," a U.S. official told NBC News.
This is North Korea’s fifth test launch of a long-range rocket or ballistic missile. U.S. officials consider the four previous launches failures. Early reports indicate Tuesday’s launch was more successful than last April’s attempt, when the rocket exploded into pieces shortly after takeoff.