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. FreeNLovIT

    Keep letting Nk shoot things up in the air and one day, it's going land on our soil. We need to stop their space program NOW. If they dotn, we should just pull out of Afghan and let the Talibans run that country and drive Russia and CHina CRAZY... They've got their own Muslim-hairball in their backyard... If we clean up Afghan for them, it will not be good..

    April 5, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. xddy4u

    What can you expect from a ROGUE Country like North Korea? What do they have to lose? But everything to gain. And that's what? ATTENTION. North Korea wants Political Attention from the rest of the World. So this is how it goes about getting it. Rather N.Korea's approach is right or wrong, something has to be done. You got to seriously talk to the one that's throwing the brick, not standing way off yelling at him. But you got to go and meet the thrower face to face, and fine out what's the problem. That's what Obama got to do. Not follow the same agenda Bush had. Meet with Iran and N. Korea. Dialog is the link between War and Peach. No Dialog, and you definitely will end up in a WAR.

    April 5, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  3. phoenix86

    And now Obama will do NOTHING about it.

    April 5, 2009 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. D in Phoenix

    The North Koreans launched a failed "satellite". And all you neocons are demanding that the President get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning and respond with what? A nuclear strike?

    Get a grip, people. The real threat to this country lies in our own greed that has allowed the Chinese and Saudis to own this place. We're bailing out AIG to refund the Chinese their investments before they get mad and launch a real "satellite".

    April 5, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  5. susan,

    Thank God it is nolonger bush in office! He could have immediately declared war with the help of his fellow rebublicans. we know pres. obama will make the right decisions. The reign of aggressive bullies is over! GOD bless our pres. obama. God bless him Amen

    April 5, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. Bradley from CA

    Why did he bother to wake him up? It's not like he was going to do anything about it. Ha ha. Dang let him sleep.

    April 5, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. bob bobson

    This is the most pathetic news blurb. CNN is so obvious in endorsing anything that B.O. has to say and do.
    This is not journalism, this is yellow media, socialist propaganda type that is still very prevalent in eastern Europe and former Soviet Union.
    What a shame. And you call this journalism?

    April 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  8. vernah petersen

    I think that having a direct access to reach the president of the united is very important they way globally crises is getting rampant.

    Vernah, Lincoln

    April 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. Terry

    I can sleep at night knowing that Obama and his team are awake taking calls about North Korea or Iran.

    I was always nervous about Reagan and Bush2. The elder Bush, for all his domestic failures, was very capable when it came to foreign affairs. He fought the cleanest best war that has ever been fought and he got us out of it clean. It is too bad his son never asked him for advice.

    Let me ask Conservatives this: who among the lackluster hacks that pass for leaders in your party would YOU want taking that phone call late at night?

    April 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Cha cha

    First of all, CNN continues in its campaign mode for this intellectual midget.

    Second of all, I am SURE the North Koreans are panic stricken with Obama's call for the U.N. to think about getting together to think about debating a resolution to maybe threaten the N.K.s with an in your face tongue lashing. They are scared.

    You Obamists are a pack of fools and are going to cost hundreds of thousands of American lives.

    April 5, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Rami

    Uhh, chad. Gates woke up Obama. Read the article, son.

    April 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  12. Dan, TX

    China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, USA. Who has more to fear from a North Korea nuclear weapon. We should just tell China to handle this. North Korea can not, and will never be able to land a missle on the US.

    It is funny to see people posting here running around like little girls afraid of a little punk nation like Korea. I suppose you want us to invade them and turn North Korea into a democracy. LOL.

    April 5, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Desmond

    In addition to North Korea, the following report indicates the result of the USA being sidetracked into Iraq instead of concentrating on Al Qaida in 2001:
    "NEW DELHI: In a sensational disclosure, a top Pakistani police officer has said al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists were present in every town and city of Pakistan and had plans to destabilise the Middle East to use the region as a "launch pad" against the US and Europe.

    The police chief of North West Frontier Province, Malik Navid, has told a Standing Committee of the Pakistan National Assembly that the two outfits "planned to carry out terrorist attacks similar to the September 11, 2001, strike on the US and European targets.

    "The terrorists and extremists were spreading across Pakistan and they had plans to destabilise the Middle East so that it could be used as a launch pad against the US and Europe," Navid was quoted by Pakistani newspaper 'Daily Times'.

    April 5, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Jerry American

    So the ovalten potus got a phone call , so what. This is the news that didn't make the headlines...

    By executive order, President Barack Obama has ordered the expenditure of $20.3 million in migration assistance to the Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza . The "presidential determination" which allows hundreds of thousands of Palestinians with ties to Hamas to resettle in the United States was signed on January 27 and appeared in the Federal Register on February 4.
    Truely his comrades

    April 5, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. Sam SixPack

    Time for those "consequences." First we need Hu Jintao's permission and then BHO HRC can scold Kim Jong-il in harmony.

    April 5, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. fred

    President Obama's speech in Prague – AWESOME! (VIDEO)

    Now that's a leader!!!

    April 5, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. FreeNLovIT

    No Nuke pgm for Iran. No space pgm for NKorea. Stop them while you can, dont WAIT!!!!!!!!!

    April 5, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. Thomas

    WOW, he really got up and put the strong arm on them. He told them not to launch, told them in strong terms REALLY strong terms. Shockingly they launched. So now he tells them they are acting recklessly. Yep, this plan seems to be working.

    I don't really see the big deal in him calling for an end to nuclear weapons. They are bad...so is world hunger, poverty, and terrorism. Pretty easy stance to take.

    April 5, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. wwoodguy

    Is it possible that the right wingers watch video of the US President rally the world around Change....and think "Thank God McCain/Palin lost"....

    Eh. Probably not.

    April 5, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. Read the Article

    UH Rami, it was Gibbs who woke him up. Why don't YOU read the article lol !!!!

    April 5, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. FreeNLovIT

    The future doesnt look good. Bible prophecies say that Mother Russia will invade Israel and China will follow with 200 million soldiers. Is it Armageddon yet? No. We're all not ID with 666 yet.

    April 5, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Don

    Is it possible that the right wingers watch video of the US President rally the world around Change....and think "Thank God McCain/Palin lost"....

    Eh. Probably not.

    April 5, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  23. Cha cha

    Bob Bobson – You read my thoughts. At least a couple of us here this morning are not in an orgasmic mode over the god king Obama.

    Every day when Obama stumbles the Obamist start squealing like stuck pigs "boosh, boosh, boosh". Well it ain't working anymore. Obama has left the path of rational action and is taking this country straight into hell. And he will be held accountable.

    April 5, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. American

    I have no words to express how grateful I am as an American who goes to Italy.
    Everyone in the world owes this man, everyone.
    Who says one person can't make a difference,
    on underprivileged ethnic person, what an
    inspiration. This should have happened long
    long ago. We love you dear, dear President.

    April 5, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  25. Richie

    Lead baby lead!! This is a leader.

    April 5, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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