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. stag

    Well, that was a wasted phone call. Now the ball-less one, BHO, can go to the UN for help. This guy is a waste.

    April 5, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. John Robertson

    Obama, aka (Jimmy Carter), will do nothing but talk about it, and try a sic the UN on them and as history will show th UN has never accomplished any thing worth while costing us millions of dollars.

    Bully thugs like Kim of north korea need to me handled with firm actions, (Like shooting it down), it is the only action that they will understand.

    The safety of this country is at stake here, and all Sec of Defense Gates can say is ..this is nothing we can do.,,

    don't forget history, those that due are destin to repeat it. aks ( Hitler)


    April 5, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. Brian - Seattle

    Interesting how so many people criticize the president for doing many of the same things Bush did, which they praised. There is little the UNSC or the Presidency can do to stop a nation like North Korea from doing what they want – regardless of the president's party. If you look through history you'll see that North Korea actually tested a nuclear device during Bush's presidency. What did you, the critics, say then?

    It just makes those who criticize the President look like sore losers. To those of you who criticize everything Obama does, do you think you are actually having an effect on the world? Are you changing anything?

    It's time to stop this constant back and forth. It's not doing anything positive for the country. You want that right?

    April 5, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  4. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    As he rolled out of bed, he groped for the Teleprompter which wasn't there, and, uh, was, uh, speechless.

    April 5, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. David

    I think you are doing a terrific job, Mr. President.

    April 5, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. Dixie

    He should have called Hillary first. She's been ready.

    April 5, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. Scott

    Some people are just rediculous.Why is it that the rest of the world can see how lucky we are to finally have a president like Obama,but us as Americans,are as arrogent as ever.The rest of the world is actually starting to appreciate us again ,and all we do is complain.I guess some people still think George W. was actually worth a crap,and did not pretty much ruin our country in 8 years.Your phones have been tapped,your sons have shrapnel stuck in their bodies,our economy is in the tank,but you want to complain about Obama,like I said this country is rediculous!!!!!

    April 5, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. williewo

    @ arno

    The launch did fail..The stages seperated too quick and the payload (whatever it was) never reached orbit

    April 5, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Alex

    Why are Americans do dumb? You guys should love your president. Because of your former president (Mr. Bush), the entire world hates you. Get your head out of your backyard and see what people from other countries think of you and your country. You should be very proud that the world has slowly started to like you because of your new president. Stop being arrogant learn to appreciate your new President. Obama has inherited a lot of crrap from Bush.. cut him some slack, will ya? He is not God, you know?

    April 5, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. CHUCKT

    We should have left their pretty little missile in a smoking heap on the ground. If you keep threatening to spank a child and never do, they quickly learn there is no fear of consequences. When someone finally leaves a big smoking black hole in the ground where new york city used to be, we'll slap them with a cease and desist court order.
    In 65 years we've gone from being a country that can win a Major World War to being a country that some little piss ant country like North K. can give us the finger and laugh at us in the world press.

    April 5, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Scott AZ

    Unless Obama plans on attacking North Korea which he won't, this issue is mute.

    April 5, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Bush took N. Korea OFF the terrorist list.

    April 5, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Dave

    Like he's going to do anything ? This guy is a total idiot.
    His little speeches aren't going to stop terrorist .

    April 5, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. williewo

    @ Tracy

    Well said on your points ....This should also be the thought line on Iran..
    1 nuke against..........No longer a country
    No one is that crazy

    April 5, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. DPB

    Whatever the teleprompter tells Oboyma to say, that is what he will say. But he did tell the world that the US is arrogant. What a true leader Europe has. Sure wish we had one.
    Resign now or face impeachment, oh annointed one.

    April 5, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. RJ Bakken

    I wonder what all these people will be saying about Obama when we have another attack. As for the other issues: Obamas administration, sec treasury Tim G who by the way did not pay his income taxes like the rest of us insisted that Sen Dodd put in the stimulas bill that AIG CEO get there 165 million in bonuses!! Why are people over looking these mistakes. Obama pledge in his campaign to go thru the budget line by line but yet he can't read the bills he signs. How far did he make it in school?????

    April 5, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    Why are all you people trippin? North Korea has every right to test fire rockets the west does not own the world,

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  18. Bill

    Good grief... are the libs going to blame Bush for everything for the rest of eternity? I'm a moderate Democrat, and quite frankly it's way passed being "old".. get over it already, you sound ridiculous when all you do is blame George Bush for everything... STILL.

    As for Obamas amazing speeches... some of you need to pull your heads out of the sand... someone else writes the speeches for him and he reads them off a teleprompter!!!! Wow.. such talent... he can read. What the heck is so impressive about that?

    And lastly, those Nukes you hate so much have kept this country safe since they were first created and ended one world war. You tree hugging hippies will never get that...

    April 5, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. arithmetic is liberal

    Why didn't Obama shoot the thing down before it even launched?

    He knew it was coming. He knew where it was located.


    April 5, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. I told you so

    Get ready the world is going to run all over our WEAK president!

    April 5, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. Tayo

    Are you guys ready for it,do you feel it,its pulse captivating and real.Now you gotta see the prez with a spine.A candy and a cane guy.Just watch as the event unfold,Obama will prove his barking dog can bite REAL Hard.

    April 5, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. hrao

    What a waste of print space? I am sure OBAMA and his admirers will take credit for what happens next? Why is the press so chlldish?

    April 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. Flag

    YEP! Obama bashes his own county in Europe. Liberals are saying in unison..."Yes, we are so arrogant, most wonderful man..." How disgusting.

    April 5, 2009 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. justin

    Jimmy–disarming nukes will never happen, and you would be a fool to disarm yours while others will keep theirs.

    HA! The UN is having an emergency meeting....I am sure N. Korea will be terrified.

    April 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  25. Nisey01

    Why so much controversy, this ballistic missile test has been awared through the prospective chain of command indicating it’s reason for doing so. And the U.N. space treaty have previously agreed to this protocol before the launch. The path of it's orbit have been awared or has been offered to be viewed should it be wanted to confirm it's whereabouts at any given time. So why all the controversy about N. Korea being defiant and all, the before and after protocol appears to be intact from what I've read . We need to be mindful that there are some things that will occur in life that will be inevitable. So we need to tune down on such controversy because of a lack of knowledge and ignorance on one's part could pose a false interception of false realities that should not manifest in the mind. Get the facts and then get back. Now on the security issue and at the particular time wherein President Obama and others indicated the launch not to manifest, all I have to say is that N. Korea was defiant in it’s launching after talks indicating otherwise, but the original plan from the past years leaves room to see that the launch was awared via the U. N. space treaty agreement protocol. Anything to deter the mind and distort the reality of the more intricate concerns of the economy and our struggling demeanor at present.

    April 5, 2009 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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