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Mon, Apr 06, 2009

Obama Condemns North Korean Missile Launch

Like Before, Rocket Fails To Reach Orbit

In Europe Sunday, President Barack Obama strongly criticized Saturday night's failed missile launch by North Korea. The three-stage rocket -- ostensibly an attempt to place a satellite into orbit -- failed to achieve orbit and fell back into the Pacific Ocean without incident, according to the US military.

Obama was informed of the launch attempt while in the Czech Republic Sunday. The President 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. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response."

First threatened by North Korean officials in February, the latest firing of a Taepodong-2 rocket met with much the same fate as previous launches... despite nearly three years of development time since the last attempt.

The missile passed over Japan but jettisoned no debris there, according to the US Northern Command news release issued Sunday. Its 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. The missile's flight path had presented no threat to North America or Hawaii.

According to news reports, the UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the North Korean missile launch issue.

During his visit to Europe, President Obama (right) 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 US 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, US State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters at an April 2 news conference in Washington, DC.

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. 

(Aero-News thanks Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service)

FMI: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html, www.defenselink.mil

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