“The international community must work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions have consequences,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor, in a statement.
The U.S. military’s North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracked the launch, which North Korea claimed was to put a satellite into orbit. In a rare statement from NORAD, delivered through the Pentagon, the command said the missile flew southward, dropping two boosters stages along the way. Japanese news said the missile flew over Okinawa.
“Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit. At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America,” said the command.
That threat is Washington’s chief concern. North Korea, a nuclear state, does not have a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental United States, but during a visit through China in 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicted Pyongyang was within five-years of achieving that technology. Pyongyang reportedly claimed it launched a weather satellite.
Vietor on Tuesday said, “North Korea’s launch today -- using ballistic missile technology despite express prohibitions by United Nations Security Council resolutions -- is a highly provocative act that threatens regional security, directly violates United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, contravenes North Korea’s international obligations, and undermines the global non-proliferation regime.”
Vietor said the White House would quickly pursue talks with Six-Party members and the United Nations Security Council to determine what action to take in response to the launch.
“Devoting scarce resources to the development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons has not brought it security and acceptance by the international community—and never will.”
White House vows response to North Korean launch