Republican slams Obama over North Korean rocket launch

The Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee slammed President Obama Tuesday night after North Korea apparently launched a long-range rocket, in violation of stalled nuclear disarmament talks.

The rocket launch, first reported by South Korean authorities, had a stated goal of putting a satellite into orbit. The United States and other countries say the rocket launches are really aimed at testing ballistic missile technology that could be used to carry a nuclear warhead.

“The Obama Administration’s policies of appeasement through proposed talks over the past four years has done nothing to deter North Korean aggression,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “The Administration’s statements that we will prevent the Iranian regime from going nuclear lose all credibility when one observes how North Korea has been able to brazenly flaunt all UN resolutions, sanctions, and appeals for restraint since 1993.”

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Ros-Lehtinen is the author of two North Korea sanctions bills. 

One bill would punish individuals and countries that participate in the nuclear proliferation to or from North Korea, Syria and Iran. It passed the House last year, but is stuck in the Senate.

The second bill would express the sense of Congress that the secretary of State should redesignate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism after delisting the country in 2008, under President George W. Bush.

“The only approach Pyongyang will understand is one of action and strength,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We must reinvigorate and fortify sanctions against the regime and work even more closely with our Asia-Pacific allies through increased diplomatic and defense cooperation to contain the menace of North Korea.”

She said that “the illusion” that North Korean Kim Jung-un would be “any less ruthless or provocative than his father and grandfather before him has gone up in smoke on the missile launch pad. North Korea remains the same pariah state that it is has been since the dark days of the Korean War.”

Japan's Kyodo news agency reported late Tuesday that Japan's envoy to the United Nations is asking for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to address the launch, according to Reuters.