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. Gop

    Sorry about the misspelling of the word Americans in my other post it was a typo!

    I still like to point out what makes you people in other countries like him so much? Is it the fact he believes in a Socialistic agenda as your leaders believe in?

    I’m not very much thrilled with the fact Socialist like how our Government is becoming.

    April 5, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  2. Nancy

    Everyone is blind sighted by the notion that North Korea DID this. No one notices that they did this under Obama's watch. So much for diplomacy with the terror nations... I really wish Obama the best. Come out of the POLITICAL mode and be a president. Stop preaching and start acting. Stop with your non sense speeches. I supported you but stop giving political speeches. You still have 3 years to run a campaign. Give us something in the coming 3 years like you promised.

    April 5, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  3. Ken in NC

    I think North Korea deserves the most harsh punishment possible. We need to send the CEO's of Wall Street and former VP Cheney to live there with them.

    April 5, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. Ken K

    "President Obama is very smart, and intelligent and knows what he is doing in running the country!!! "

    Personally, I don't hate anyone...but I disagree with your comment. President O'bama is doing the same thing now that every other 1st term President before him has had to do...he is learning on the job.

    No one comes into the office of the President and "knows what he is doing in running the country"

    They all have to learn on the job.

    April 5, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. MD

    I am so proud of our president for conducting himself in a manner which has earned him the respect of other Heads of State.

    Not only did he respond to N. Korea with accurate level of rhetoric, but also managed to avert not one, but two potentially damaging incidents during his trip.

    I firmly believe that Obama's experience as a community organizer was the basis for his ability to conduct himself diplomatically.

    Ahhhh...It's so good to be an American.

    April 5, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  6. Jimmy Espinoza

    To make rash decisions is not leadership. Obama has shown he is not an irrational man.

    Barack Steady Obama

    April 5, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. C W

    "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."

    What a refreshing change to have a President who actually understands what's going on in the world and prepares for situations that could arise.

    Unlike Bush, with his naively dangerous "We'll be greeted as liberators when we invade Iraq" and "Heckuva job, Brownie!"

    April 5, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. German,Irish American

    Why wake up Obama? Doesn't he have someone to plug in his teleprompter so he can sleep?

    April 5, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. Lori

    I am so proud of our President's leadership nationally and internationally. United he and Hillary stand and I love it! Eat your heart out Republicans and Hillary defecters!

    April 5, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. Tom

    I expect Obama to write a very stern and strong letter to the leader of the UN about this. My goodness we can't have every two-bit petty dictator in the world firing off ICBM's now can we?

    If you haven't figured it out by now Obama has made the U.S a laughing stock we are disrespected around the world now that is much worse then being hated or feared. Liberals don't understand the respect thing because they believe in the inherit goodness of human kind... but liberals would rather forget that 19 human beings strapped themselves into jet aircraft on 911 with the sole intent of killing themselves and as many Americans as possible.

    Were they all psychotic?

    A great movie independence day when the President in the film is interrogating the captured alien and says... Can their be a peach, the alien replies Peace? no Peace and the President says well what is that you want us to do and the alien says DIE<<<<<DIE<<<<DIE<<<<

    How do you liberals led by Obama confront that kind of pure hatred?

    Tell me love and I will puke, obama should be ashamed of himself, he certainly has made me ashamed to be an American.

    April 5, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. RunBabyRun

    White House confidential sources state that President B. Hussein Obama's first words after the wake up call were: uhh..ahh please hook up the teleprompter! I can't talk without it!!!!!

    April 5, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Chipster

    I continue to be astonished at comments like this:
    "Fearless Comrade Community Organizer, what do we do now?"

    What is the point? What is the reference? If the term "Comrade" is supposed to suggest that the President intends to create an authoritarian rule and/or undermine the Constitution, you have the wrong Administration in mind. It's the previous Administration that acted unilaterally, disregarded and violated the Constitution, and ruled rather than governed.

    Where we you when the previous administration disregarded constitution requirements for warrants? When did you protest violations of U.S. and International law regarding torture? Did you call Bush/Cheney comrade when they dispensed with the concept of due process and argued that even U.S. citizens could be detained indefinitely, without judicial review, simply for being suspected of terrorism - no evidence required?

    Obama has defended the Constitution so far so, until he makes any attempt to violate it, how about dispensing with this foolish rhetoric?

    April 5, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Mike Mundy, Houston, TX

    It reminds me of the commercial.."It's 3 am, the phone rings at the White House....who do you want to answer that call?" "I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve of this message".

    This COMPLETELY demonstrates President Barack Obama's FAILURE to LEAD and PROTECT the American people and our allies!!! That rocket should have been shot down!!

    It really scares me to think of other defiant acts around the world, that Obama is ignorning! SHAMEFUL!! I'll guarantee you, that Reagan or both Bushs, would NOT have tolerated this crap! Grow some b*lls Barack!

    April 5, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Peace Out!!

    @jeff April 5th, 2009 12:05 pm ET
    Bush happened to have the top job but the other branches of government are just as much to blame for where we are. It's just easier to throw Bush under the bus***Yea But Bush,Cheney and his administration lied about WMD........Now Shut The Hell UP!!!

    April 5, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. Tag

    These people who want us to invade yet another sovereign nation that does not pose any direct threat to the U.S. are scary. It's as if they want us to shove our guns in everyone's face and tell them what to do..

    At least we now know that Obama can effectively handle the 3 a.m. call. Yet another campaign attack disproven.

    April 5, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. Bashir

    At the last count US had over 10000 of those nuclear warhead,and thats enough to obliterate every nation on the planet.So why is the nead for more,obama is saying no need to build more of these destructive machine when hardworking people dont have enough to eat,spend,sponsor college educ.I bet only the fear monger(GOPERS)need more nukes,cos they have all they need.

    April 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Chuck-Texas

    Well, the call came in at 4:30 A.M......that's a lot different than answering the phone at 3:00 A.M. isn't it !!?? Not the same at all !!!

    April 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. luvinman29

    Bush's answer would be to attack Canada. Everybody bashing President Obama probably voted for Bush, including John "Fox News" King.

    April 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. Steph

    Yes matt, 4 long only years. In your dreams. Bush didnt trhow a bomb at North Korea. He also went to the UN.

    April 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Rafael VA

    Big deal! Wow great job Obama wow! So what ? North Korea will launch another whenever they feel like it. They will do it in our face no matter what we do or say. This is becoming funny North Korea bullies USA, South Korea and Japan the Chinnese just say please don't do it and the Russians don't even care and all Obama can come up with is (Provocative) hahahahahahah! Obama please understand if we do not flex our military muscle with North Korea they will continue to do so in our face and you will look weak! Be a man Obama and stop North Korea!

    April 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. rtl

    RunBabyRun seems to forget Bush couldn't talk WITH a teleprompter. How quickly they forget...

    April 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. barking dogs

    Wake up people.North Korea is nothing more than Chinas pit bull.There isnt a bit of difference between them.When push came to shove in the fiftys,China was the Norths partner against us.

    April 5, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Big Tom

    Obama has shown that he is a total amateur and a weak , embarrasing leader. He tries to be Mr. nice guy and the Taliban, Iran and now No. Korea have stuck it to him and laughed at him to his face. He is an apologist and extremely weak leader and our adverseries see it and will exploit it. On top of that he bows to his waist in the presence of the King of Saudi Arabia while every other dignitary shook hands. No President of the United States has ever bowed to anyone. This guy is going to get a lot of Americans killed and is opening the door to another attack on the U.S. , here at home. I guess the grave consequences that he threatened No. Korea with, if they launched, were his being awakened earlier than usual and then telling them that they are bad.

    April 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Steph

    'German,Irish American' = notihing to do than criticizing the President.

    April 5, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |

    Hopefully Messiah Obama handles North Korea better than he handles our economy. This is a whole new ballgame for the anointed one, who usually faces difficult decisions by voting 'present' and putting on a community organizer badge.

    April 5, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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