The failed satellite launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) early Friday has prompted international concerns, with Washington and Seoul condemning the act as a violation of UN resolutions and a threat to regional stability.
U.S. military says DPRK rocket fell into sea after launch
"Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea's provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
Undated file Google satellite photo shows the launch pad in Tongchang-ri base, Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Media reports said the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has launched an earth observation satellite on April 13, 2012. (Xinhua/Zhang Li)
"While this action is not surprising given North Korea's pattern of aggressive behavior, any missile activity by North Korea is of concern to the international community.
"The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security (of) our allies in the region," he said.
The DPRK launched a rocket carrying the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite at 07:38 a.m. local time (2238 GMT Thursday) at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Cholsan County, North Pyongan Province.
"The earth observation satellite failed to enter its preset orbit.Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure," the DPRK's official KCNA news agency reported.
Pyongyang has insisted the launch, planned to mark the 100th birthday of late DPRK founder Kim Il Sung, was for peaceful purposes and would not harm the region or neighboring countries.
Japan's defense ministry said the country has suffered "no impact of falling objects" from the launch and urged the public to stay calm.
The Japanese government convened security meetings to discuss its response to the DPRK's failed satellite launch.
South Korea strongly condemned the launch, saying the DPRK will have to "take responsibility."
"North Korea's long-range missile launch is a clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874 banning all launches using ballistic-missile technology, and is a provocative act that threatens peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia," South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said in a statement.
"North Korea will have to take responsibility (for the launch)," Kim said, adding the government is seeking a "comprehensive response" to potential nuclear and missile threats posed by its northern neighbor.
South Korea and Japan had vowed to shoot down the three-stage rocket or parts of it if they fell within their territory, prompting the DPRK to threaten a retaliation of "merciless punishment," but the debris fell into international waters some 100 to 150 km off South Korea's western port city of Gunsan.
China on Friday urged all sides to remain calm after Pyongyang's failed rocket launch.
"We hope all relevant parties can maintain calm and restraint, and refrain from acts that would harm peace and stability on the Peninsula and in the region," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement.
He also called on all sides to maintain "contact and dialogue" to jointly ensure peace and stability on the Peninsula and in the region.
The UN Security Council will convene an emergency session at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Friday to discuss responses to the rocket launch.
Diplomats said the U.S. UN mission, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency for April, is working on a presidential statement condemning Pyongyang's rocket launch to get it approved by the council on Friday.
In Washington, foreign ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) issued a statement Thursday condemning the DPRK's rocket launch.
"We are ready to consider, with others, taking measures responding to all activities of the DPRK that violate UN Security Council Resolutions, and calling for an appropriate response by the United Nations Security Council," the statement said.
The ministers urged the DPRK "to abstain from further launches using ballistic missile technology or other actions which aggravate the situation on the Korean Peninsula."
They also called on the DPRK to meet its international commitments including those under the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and comply with its obligations under all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, in particular by abandoning all its nuclear weapons and its existing nuclear and ballistic missile programs "in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner."
The DPRK should cease its uranium enrichment activities and take concrete and irreversible steps toward denuclearization, the statement added.
Indonesia on Friday expressed its regret over the DPRK's rocket launch.
"We deeply regret that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has chosen to proceed with the rocket launch, despite the appeals of many. At this current juncture, it is important that all project calm and exercise maximum restraint. More than ever, it is vital that diplomacy and dialogue be placed at the forefront in order to ensure peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula," the Indonesian foreign ministry said in a statement.
In Wellington, New Zealand's government said it "strongly urges North Korea to abide by its obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions, cease its provocations, and take steps to denuclearize."
New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in a statement that his government was joining "the widespread international condemnation" of the satellite launch by the DPRK on early Friday morning.
"Despite North Korea's claim that the satellite launch is for peaceful purposes, this action violates UN Security Council Resolutions, aggravates tensions and undermines efforts to build peace and stability in the region," McCully said.
"It is a major disappointment following their recent agreement with the United States to put a moratorium on long-range missile launches," he said in the statement.
In Manila, the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement that "the Philippines strongly urges the DPRK to desist from acts of provocation and to end its use or testing of ballistic missile technology."
In late February, the DPRK agreed to impose a moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches and allow international nuclear inspectors to return to the country. In return, the United States agreed to provide the country with 240,000 tons of food aid.