White House slams ‘provocative’ North Korean rocket launch

The White House on Tuesday strongly criticized North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket as “highly provocative” and warned there would be “consequences” for the action.

The United States and other countries say such launches are a cover for North Korea to test ballistic missile technology, in violation of stalled nuclear disarmament talks. 

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor in a statement late Tuesday said the United States would work with other countries involved in the talks and with the United Nations “to pursue appropriate action.”

The United States, Vietor said, “remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and fully committed to the security of our allies in the region. Given this current threat to regional security, the United States will strengthen and increase our close coordination with allies and partners.

“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,” Vietor added. “The international community continues to insist that North Korea live up to its commitments, adhere to its international obligations and deal peacefully with its neighbors.”

NATO's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, put out a statement “strongly” condemning the launch.

“This provocative act exacerbates tensions in the region and risks further destabilizing the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “NATO continues to call on the North Korean authorities to fulfill their obligations under international law, to comply fully with the will of the international community as expressed by the United Nations Security Council and the moratorium on missile launches.”

The launch also brought criticism from GOP lawmakers, who questioned the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts to push North Korea to disarm its nuclear arsenal.

On Tuesday night, the House GOP chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), said the administration’s “policies of appeasement through proposed talks over the past four years has done nothing to deter North Korean aggression.”

“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 U.N. resolutions, sanctions and appeals for restraint since 1993,” she added.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, called the launch the “latest alarming chapter in a decades-long story.”

“U.S. policy toward North Korea is a long-running failure,” Royce said. “This new edition of the Kim dynasty has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons program.

“I’ve been calling for a North Korea policy with energy, creativity and focus. Instead, the Obama administration’s approach continues to be unimaginative and moribund. We can either take a different approach, or watch as the North Korean threat to the region and the U.S. grows,” he continued.