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. Nisey01

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

    I am not surprised at the launch, actually I anticipated it. The writing was on the wall that this launch would manifest, so why all the uproar and unbelief is another lie that behold the beholder. If you understand politics, you will understand that some things are inevitable to occur, regardless of what we all may expect. Not saying that it was right to launch, especially after being instructed not too, but the U.N. space treaty apparently was aware of such a manifestation in prior years from what I’ve read and that this ballistic missile test is merely a test. Sure we may feel that this have violated our safety and true, but we need be mindful that the onset of this situation occurred within the Bush administration and the repercussions that we now face are alarms that have spilled over into the Obama’s administration with people not understanding that this situation is something that President Obama has to secure boundaries for amongst the other expected duties to secure a better future for our devastating status at present. I have confident that President Obama will prevail in his forwarding agenda to combat the necessary in the best interests of the people. Jumping to false conclusions and unnecessary finger pointing in the midst of such a crisis is not a solution at present and I commend President Obama on all efforts exercised in the midst of proudly stepping to the plate to forward an agenda to help and not hurt. If this world would continually run on the mindset to hurt some, yet help others, than we would no doubt hasten our doom. Where’s the love, love heals a multitude of sins. When our world turns from our evil ways, then will our land be healed and our world no doubt needs a complete healing right now.

    April 5, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. thetruth

    just a light thought...I'll bet $100.00 that as Gibbs approached the Pres's bed chamber that he had thoughts of Joe Biden's "international test" remark as well as Hillary Clintons "3am call" images just dancing in his head, with a crooked gotcha grin on his face; in what must have been a surreal moment!

    April 5, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. The Broker.

    History will always repeat itself. We are all talking to each other.
    Each of us does not have to listen to, anyone. This is a free world.
    You can shout all you wan't. But you won't tell me how to live my life.

    And the rest of the world thinks the same. Shout. Disagree.
    But do not demand, Only hypocrits do that.

    April 5, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. Joe

    Just to affirm that we, citizens of the world – (Non US), love your President. We are suprised to see the sarcasm in some of your comments.

    April 5, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. welches, oregon

    President Obama was born for this kind of leadership. He wasn't born into it, but he was certainly born for it. Thank Goodness he came along at this place and this time. I have complete faith in President Obama and that he will do what is correct

    April 5, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Ken K

    "our most respected and INTELLIGENT president EVER!"

    Hmm... That would most likely be George Washington...

    April 5, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. barking dogs

    I just hope Limbaugh was aboard for the ride.

    April 5, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  8. Edward

    So after he woke up, he went back to bed. What a naive dud. CNN, you owe us an apology for helping this guy to be elected.
    Interesting assertion coming from someone who probably voted for Bush. How did that work out for you? You're so great at decision making. You say CNN helped get Obama elected yet YOU contributed to starting a war that was waged under false pretenses, helped people get tortured and helped to bring our economy to it's knees. Please don't give anyone any advice.

    April 5, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. rick

    Obama speech of getting rid of all the world nuclear weapons bought such a tear to my eye the Messiah has spoken i'm just so glad that every country will lay down there weapons and destroy there nuclear arsenal pathetic Obama is what about Africa feeding people stoping wars

    April 5, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. John Sturgis, SD

    North Korea is a wart on the big toe of the Chinese, they should freeze that wart before they spread and cause long term foot problems. China should behave as a responsible parent, and take care of business.

    April 5, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. DEM in HI

    N. Korea will do anything to get attention and there is very little we can do because their nutty leader is already starving his country with the current sanctions in place. Hate to say it, but if we want to reign in N. Korea, we need to set some sort of punishment for China who is protecting this thug. It is too bad that some in the Beltway cannot figure this out and are too chicken to punish China.

    April 5, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Demosthenes

    I am grateful that our president was able to take action into this event and hope he is able to keep peace into Asia. But I am not fully convinced that we can avoid war for that nation(North Korea) will surely not accept this offer. So i would not be surprised if we don't make peace of this event.

    April 5, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. NV

    North Korea is trying to pull our chains. We sit there and say, "if you launch that we will shoot it down" they launched it, we did not shoot it down. Japan is scared silly because N. Korea said they would attack if they did. We should have blown it up the literal second it left the launch pad. That way they see that we are not kidding around. No means NO.

    April 5, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. Fishsnot

    Fearless Comrade Community Organizer, what do we do now?

    April 5, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. Ken K

    "By the way, that Kool-Aid crap is a racist comment, so that pretty much tells me what kind of human garbage"

    No it is not. The term "Drinking the Kool Aid" has nothing to do with racism. It is an oft-used term to describe people who just go along with everything that someone else is passing out..whether it is garbage or not. If you follow along blindly, you are said the be just "drinking the Kool-Aid". On its own it has nothing to do with racism. And the previous poster did not use it in a context that would have denoted it as racist.

    April 5, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Dave in Houston

    John McCain would have probably been getting up to pee at about that time.

    April 5, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. Nisey01

    To anonymous
    It is people like you that will destroy yourself and your future’s generation because of a lack of knowledge. Please be respectful to yourself and your generation to come and not just show your minut intellect when a country experiences such a crisis that influences all and not some. Much love to you.

    April 5, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Justin, VA

    Have any of you in this chat room who are making disparaging remarks about our President ever served in the Military? Do you understand that if we had the intelligence that North Korea was launching that missile and it was a "REAL THREAAT" we would have destroyed it? Please get all your facts and stop just spewing rhetoric about how our President doesn't know what he's doing unless you'rew in the room with him and all the advisors. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback and complain about things but at the same time do not provide any solutions to fix the problem!!!.

    U.S. Air Force almost 30 Years

    April 5, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. The Broker.

    Divide the oposition. We have all the power. No! You are the oposition,

    April 5, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  20. Fed Up

    The UN is a corrupt and toothless tiger. Dictators pay no attention to UN sanctions. So, go ahead Mr. President, take your case to that useless UN and see what real results you get. In the meantime, North Korea, Iran and any other country with malicious nuclear intentions will just keep heading to nuclear armament. All the while you seek to disarm us and the Russians and destroy America's intelligence capabilities. Yes, I feel so much safer with you in charge.

    April 5, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. Alex

    Well one thing the world now knows for certain, and that is that neither the US or Japan will use force to deter rogue nations from committing provocative acts. Simply put, that mean our country will now be more likely to become a victim of bizarre conduct and even serious threats carried out by nut leaders of other countries. Clearly force will not be used until serious injuries befall our citizens. Talking now is the first and possibly only option on the table.

    April 5, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Mike in CA

    I don't think North Korea has any oil. That's why Bush didn't attack that part of the "AXIS of EVIL" NK has been bragging about doing something like this for YEARS and nothing was done. Not just 2 months.

    April 5, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Ms Boos

    All you President Obama haters, leave the man alone he is doing a great job as President of the United States of America!!!! Yeah we will have good days and bad days that LIFE!!!! You all have that in your personal lives. You haters know President Obama is very smart, and intelligent and knows what he is doing in running the country!!! HATER REPUBLICANS!!!!

    April 5, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. dittohead using forty names

    Good morning America.I may live in mom and dads cellar but that doesnt mean I know what im talking about.I love to hate the new President because hes a different color than me and it scares me so. so I do what ever Rush tells me to do .

    April 5, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. DKMontoya

    I'm just happy we have a president who, when the call came, didn't immediately grab a bottle of Jack Daniels, put on his cowboy boots, and shout "YEEEHAWWWW: Get on your horses, boys-we're gonna go to war and make some more money!"

    April 5, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13