The world has roundly condemned the controversial launch of an experimental rocket by North Korea, despite its failure. There is discord over how the international community should respond.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon added his name to a growing list of world leaders who condemned North Korea's rocket launch on Friday.
In a statement, Ban said that, despite its failure, the launch was "deplorable as it defies the firm and unanimous stance of the international community." He also urged North Korea "not to undertake any further provocative action that will heighten tension in the region."
The rocket, which has been viewed as a ballistic missile test, crashed into the Yellow Sea between the Korean peninsula and China. It had flown just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from its launch site, according to officials in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington. The UN Security Council was set to meet to discuss a response to the launch on Friday.
Seoul condemned the rocket launch as a transgression of UN Resolution 1874 - a 2009 resolution demanding that Pyongyang halt nuclear tests and the use of ballistic missile technology. There were protests in the the South Korean capital, with burning effigies of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The launch was "a clear breach," South Korea Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said. "It is a provocative act threatening peace and security on the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia," he said.
The South's defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, said that troops in the North had been placed on a high state of alert following the international condemnation of the launch. The minister gave no details on the movement of troops.
Nuclear detonation anxiety
There are also fears that the North may try to save face by conducting a nuclear test, after satellite images ahead of the rocket launch that indicated Pyongyang was planning a detonation.
The United States condemned the exercise as a waste of money that would further isolate the country.
"North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the launch would “increase tensions on the Korean peninsula," adding that the Security Council "must give a strong answer."
There was also condemnation from Japan, with Tokyo labeling the test a "grave provocation."
Amid calls for international sanctions against North Korea to be tightened, Russia, China and India together called for all parties to show restraint.
"We are convinced that the reaction to these challenges needs to be exclusively diplomatic and political," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting his Chinese and Indian counterparts in Moscow.
"We do not believe in new sanctions," said Lavrov. "They will not do anything in terms of resolving the situation."
The launch was intended in part to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's first leader, Kim Il-Sung. On Friday, his grandson, Kim Jong Un, was elected "first chairman" of the powerful National Defense Commission, according to state media. The move is thought to strengthen his position as leader.
rc/pfd (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)