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Obama: Security Council Should Punish N. Korea

This story dominated the talking bobblehead shows this morning: PRAGUE — President Obama said that North Korea violated international rules when

This story dominated the talking bobblehead shows this morning:

PRAGUE — President Obama said that North Korea violated international rules when it tested a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles, and he called on the United Nations Security Council to take action.

“This provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon at the Security Council but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons,” Mr. Obama said. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”

The United States Northern Command issued a statement that North Korea’s Taepodong 2 missile flew over Japan, with its payload landing in the Pacific Ocean.

“No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan,” the assessment said.

White House officials said that the failure of the launch would not stop the United States from taking the matter to the Security Council. “I think there have been a number of instances now where the North Koreans have failed in these attempts,” White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “The launch itself was a violation,” he said, adding that the fact that the launch failed did not make a difference in pursuing punitive sanctions.

It's very unlikely now that direct talks with N. Korea will take place after such a provocative action:

American diplomats and their partners in east Asia privately regarded the launch as a fait accompli. U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy, Stephen Bosworth, has said that launch or no launch, Washington hoped to push on with talks aimed at getting the North to give up its nuclear weapons program — even hinting that the direct U.S.-North Korean talks Pyongyang has always wanted were possible.

The launch complicates that diplomacy. Tokyo in particular is furious at Pyongyang — it had earlier in the week threatened to shoot the missile down — and immediately after the launch asked for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to take place on Sunday. Both Tokyo and the South Korean government believe the rocket launch was an explicit violation of a 2006 U.N. resolution that insisted the North "not conduct any further nuclear test or launch of a ballistic missile." The North for its part insists it has the right to place communications satellites in orbit, which it claims was the purpose of Sunday's launch, just as the Iranian government did earlier this year.

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