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Europe

Europe condemns North Korean rocket launch

The UN Security Council ended an emergency session without agreeing to an immediate response to the missile launch. North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket has drawn a "strong condemnation" from the European Union.

A TV news reporting the planned missile launch by North Korea with artist rendering

Pyongyang put a communications satellite into space

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday, defying calls from world leaders to scrap a plan that has caused international alarm.

"These actions place additional strains on regional stability at a time when the unresolved nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula requires mutual confidence-building," the Czech EU presidency said in a statement.

The EU called on Korea to "immediately suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."

The US and South Korean military say they have evidence that the rocket launch was not successful. The US military said that "the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean."

"All three stages of the rocket fell into the sea. No object entered orbit," South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-Hee said. "It was a failed attempt to put a satellite into orbit."

Security Council plans emergency session

One of Crisis management task force staff for North Korean missile launching works at their control room in northern Japan

Japan warned North Korea against launching the rocket

The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency session to debate the North Korean launch following a request from Japan's UN Ambassador. China has called for a measured response on all sides.

The United States, South Korea and Japan believe the launch is actually the test of a Taepodong-2 missile, which is designed to carry a warhead as far as Alaska.

Washington described the launch as a "provocative act" and said it would take "appropriate steps." China, the nearest the reclusive North has to a major ally, and Russia both called on all sides for calm and restraint.

US President Barack Obama said on Friday the international community would take action if North Korea went ahead with the launch to show Pyongyang it could not act with impunity.

US warns that action will be taken

US President Barack Obama with a saluting soldier in the foreground

Obama called the launch a "provocative act"

After North Korea carried out a nuclear test in 2006, the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing sanctions on military goods and luxury products. North Korea was also warned not to carry out any further missile tests.

The North Korean rocket launch will test US President Barack Obama, who announced soon after his arrival in France on Friday that he wanted to move towards "a world without nuclear weapons."

Obama also addressed the nuclear issue a speech in Prague. Obama blasted the rocket launch on Sunday morning and promised he would push for action at the upcoming Security Council meeting.

"With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations," Obama said.