April 5th, 2009
06:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama gets oft-debated early morning call on N. Korea

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/05/art.pres1.gi.jpg caption="Obama was awakened early in the morning with news North Korea launched a rocket."]PRAGUE, Czech Republic (CNN) - Visiting Prague, Czech Republic, U.S. President Barack Obama was awakened at 4:30 a.m. Sunday with the news that North Korea had launched a rocket, as it had threatened to do over the past several weeks.

During his presidential campaign, Obama and former rival Hillary Clinton debated over who would be better qualified to take a hypothetical early-morning call of an international crisis. But in Prague, where both Obama and Clinton - now Secretary of State - are participating in the European Union summit, they acted in concert.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he personally woke up the president to tell him the launch had been confirmed. Obama consulted with his top aides - some by phone and others in person, as some are traveling with him. They included Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright, National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and various other intelligence officials.

Emerging from meetings with the Czech Republic's president and prime minister, Obama said Sunday that Clinton and the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, were also "reaching out to our friends and allies" ahead of the U.N. Security Council's emergency meeting to be held in New York later in the afternoon.

"North Korea made a launch this morning that defies U.N. Security Council resolutions, that harms peace and stability for Northeast Asia," the president said.

Security Council Resolution 1718 prohibits the regime from conducting ballistic missile-related activities. The council adopted the resolution in 2006 after North Korea conducted a test of a nuclear weapon.

"This action demands a response from the international community, including from the United Nations Security Council, to demonstrate that its resolution cannot be defied with impunity," Obama said.

Obama also called on North Korea to "abandon its nuclear programs" and to "work to promote peace and stability in northeast Asia." As for the timing of the launch coming right before his speech on nuclear non-proliferation, Obama said the "launch only underscores the urgency" of his agenda.

The launch was not a surprise, Gibbs said. The president has been involved in several meetings about the potential North Korea launch over the past three to four weeks, and it was anticipated and planned for.

"Had at any moment we determined the launch posed a threat to the United States of America, we would have taken whatever steps were necessary to ensure the safety and security of the American people," Gibbs said.

Filed under: Extra • North Korea • President Obama
soundoff (307 Responses)
  1. Bob Mackay

    North Korea shot a missile. Big deal. Really, WHAT BUSINESS IS IT OF OURS, the United States??!! The United States has put more military troops into other countries (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq 2 times) than any other country has since WW II... and WE are going to question other countries about "aggression" ??!!
    Same thing with Iran. What business is it of ours, if Iran is building nuclear weapons? We have them, Israel has them... so from Iran's standpoint, why shouldn't they?
    Based on how the United States is literally falling apart internally...
    a complete breakdown of our educational system, rampant greed and immorality and disregard for everyone except our individual interests...
    we should stop this hypocritical posturing, as the world's "leader"
    for right and wrong, until we get our own country and values right.

    April 5, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Rick

    Just great.. we have a far left community organizer and media sensation at the helm while all this is going on. Maybe Obama can use nice lofty rhetoric and ask North Korea to stop launching rockets.

    Obama has already shown us he is a coward by cowering down to the EU, so why not NK??

    April 5, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. Republican

    Obama seems to be doing a great job. Just stop all the finger pointing and keep the show going. We would like to have our jobs back and a more secure employment in the USA. Who does Washington think is going to pay taxes in this country if there are no jobs and people have no money?

    April 5, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. deus_ex_machina

    'The peoples irresponsible choice' writes:

    " and goes overseas calling our great nation arrogant, dismissive and derisive. Is this treason?"

    Americans have a right – actually, a moral obligation – to speak out when they feel their government is on the wrong path; certainly this obligation extends to our leaders. Criticizing the previous administration's approach to foreign policy vis a vis our European allies is no more treason than your post here. Moreover, it is a fairly accurate assessment of that administration's actions and attitudes.

    If you think that is treason, then you fail to understand what it is that makes our nation great in the first place.

    April 5, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. Joshua

    Geeee, I'm surprised............. This is a First.............. He actually responded without waiting the mandatory week to think about it ............ I guess he becomes Feisty when awakened in the middle of the night. Funny he had to call everyone for a consensus. Which means, He was unprepared, His policy on the situation should have been in place prior the launch, that way commanders and allies know what to expect. This is the reason He says he thinks Missile Defense will not work, scared to us it.

    April 5, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. Reason

    No one seems to be acknowledging that the President of the United States (doesn't matter if it's Bush or Obama) is privy to more information regarding the safety of this country than anyone else in the world. All intelligence information goes to him. So for all of you claiming that you can do better or Obama isn't doing his job- unless you are THE top executive in Washington who is in charge of delivering all information regarding North Korea to the president personally, I suggest you shut up, because you have no idea what you are talking about.

    April 5, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. sorry sally

    Let's take this down to a junior high level, shall we? Obama is the cool kid. everyone wants to be the cool kid's friend and believe whatever the cool kid's wants them to do. But would you really jump off the bridge because the cool kid said so? Isn't that the lesson about peer pressure we all heard as kids?

    Sounds like right leaning folks can resist temptation and peer pressure better. To question authority is not stupid, it's smart. It's thinking before doing. Obama cares more about being the cool kid in the world than doing what's right by his own people. And he just proved this case at the g-20 summit.

    April 5, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
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