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. carol

    I like the way John King was blasted this morning by David axerold-chief adviser to President obama. They kinda quickly said goodbye........

    John King, everyone kinda know your show by now is for republicans....

    Why don't you say so!!

    April 5, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. FreeNLovIT

    Yes, there'll be many 1 am in the morning call, so we have to UNITE. We need to be ONE.

    April 5, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  3. arno

    I actually half expected this launch to fail and I don't think it had a warhead on board, or a sattelite for that matter. In fact, it seemed to look a lot like the "perfect city" they built just North of their border.
    The entire purpose for this launch was to send something, anything up and to have the world watching.
    The more we complained about this action, the more the North Koreans had to put on their state-television network. And this created more even than the intended propaganda this stunt was supposed to enable. Face it, we were played like a fiddle. By affirming that North Korea has the power and the motivation to scare the rest of the world, the North Korean government now has another decade or so worth of reputation to keep its people at bay. Now, I'm not saying we should have called their bluf. But reacting this anxiously, the way we have so far hasn't helped.

    April 5, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  4. Ted van Tol

    CNN are you sleeping?

    Not a word about Obama's revolutionairy speech
    on reducing nucliar weapons all over the world?
    His speech in Pragha was one of the best speeches
    from an USA president ever!
    His performance was so hopefull and the whole world
    is amazed about your new President only the Americans
    are sleeping and do not know whats going on.

    CNN you are sensuring my comments for a week now so
    pleas post it this time.

    Ted van Tol The Netherlands

    April 5, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Heidi

    Well, now we know who got the 4:30 a.m phone call..and it was about something he knew was going to happen anyway......what they just making sure he WOULD wake up? I guess "drill baby drill" takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to "security" affairs..grinz. Would love to be a fly on the wall for the smart aleck that has the guts to say to him "Mr. President this is a drill, this is only a drill..."

    April 5, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Harry

    Very Happy to have been represented by the current president!!

    April 5, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. DrMan

    It will be interesting, now that the North Koreans have fired this rocket, to see how Obama reacts after his "threat" to them was ignored. My guess is that this was nothing more than standard rhetoric.

    April 5, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Alex

    Hopefully the president doesn't get many more of those calls.

    April 5, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. carol

    John King, was didn't vice President receive the Memo that Bush wished Obama adm. all the best and they really appreciated?

    April 5, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. t hill

    The UN better write that nasty letter in all CAPS!

    April 5, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. Karen

    That scenery where the President stand looks very nice just like our President!

    April 5, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. Mario, mtl, ca.

    John what's wrong with you,, have an empty head or what, I think your show is a mistake. You are better with a monitor , not anchor,,,

    April 5, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. Matt

    Barack Obama: the whole world in his hands !

    April 5, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Emily

    You can Imagine if the 3:00am phone call got Palin.....

    April 5, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  15. Hendrik

    To Ted van Tol in Nederland

    I understand what you are saying. When I moved from Nederland to the U.S. a long time ago, I found the behavior by Americans a bit odd myself. I have since come to understand them as I became one of them. They are very much interested and they do see the good President Obama is doing.

    It used to be that CNN was a solid organization. Over time they are taking the road to sensationalism just as Fox News and MSNBC have done. Our only semi unbiased source of information is slipping away.

    Profit over solid reporting!!


    April 5, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. Enlightened Voter

    Thank God we have President Obama at the helm. BTW, I truly hope CNN isn't going to go red like john king who I can't listen to or watch.

    April 5, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. IS IT 2012 YET ?

    The more conciliatory and blame-America his speeches, the more 3 a.m. phone calls he will get.

    April 5, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Don in Albuquerque

    Sorry to say it, but I guess he blew the first 3am call.

    April 5, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. Makes U Wonder

    To: Carol

    You say Mr. King's show is for Republicans. Do you have a problem with that?

    It's hopefully sad, and very apparent, that most of the news these days is for the Democrats (Obama's greatness blah, blah, blah) and I'm sure you don't have a problem with that. What's wrong Carol, do you have a problem sharing the media? Certainly appears you do.

    April 5, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. matt

    Obama, as expected, will do nothing but ask the almighty U.N. to write up another "resolution". It's gonna be a looooong 4 years. (and only 4 years)

    April 5, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  21. matt

    President Obama call americans arrogant then he whines to the United Nothings like the North Koreans will listen

    April 5, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  22. FreeNLovIT

    If feel soooooooooooooo sorry for the people of NKorea. They are starving to death and have to live under the shadow of a few elites. NKorea shouldnt be allowed to throw UP anything in the air. They should be condemned to just be a ground-battle army not a space army. The international communities need to put pressure on NKorea and if need be, pass a law to shoot down ANY flying objects from NKorea. You dotn go around asking for aid and throw up things in the air!!! The last thing we all need is a successful space program, run by NKorean. What a shame that country was split in half..

    April 5, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  23. Sumaya Conners. East Chatham, NY

    I used to like John King, but now he has gone to the "other side" like
    Lou Dobbs, Navarette, Anderson.
    Good bye CNN – Ted Turner must be wondering what went wrong and seething by now.
    Hello MSNBC!

    April 5, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. Kent in CA

    CNN: why are you ignoring the President's speech in Prague? Do you think his call to rid the world of nuclear weapons is not worthy of your time to report?
    I suppose if he said he wanted to rid the world of Rush Limbaugh you would have it as your banner headline.
    What kind of news agency is this?

    April 5, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. Chad

    Gibbs personally woke up Obama, lol. Did he bring Obama a warm glass of milk and a blanky while he was at it?

    April 5, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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