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. Dolly,

    Is this our foreign policy now when something with the potential to affect world stability occurs, a mere saying "guy that wasn't nice"? There must not be a teleprompter in his bedroom.

    CNN, you elected him and we all have to play.

    April 5, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  2. steven

    To Justin in the Airforce thanks for your service but seriously we have the intelligence just not the balsl to stop them we also have intelligence about Iran but thats Israel not our problem right

    April 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. independent Jim

    The President's accomplishments in the last week: he tells North Korea, "Naughty, naughty.". G20 resulted in the European goal of regulatory structure prevailing over Obama's goal of a European version of the US stimulus package – in fact, the Europeans probably said "No" to a stimulus because they hope we will continue to bail out AIG, who insures a bunch of their banks. We get no real help from the Europeans on Afghanistan.

    If you think this week was a huge diplomatic success, you might want to drink some more Koolaid.

    April 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. Sirjonkid

    For the record I am an Obama supporter, and I think they should have shot it down. What would the world/ N. Korea have done. We stated our posiition, but they still went ahead and launched. We're the big boy's on the block, and nobody would have done anything if we'd smacked panzy (N. Korea) upside the head. It wouldnt have been worth it to China or Russia to start nothing. We cant let those fools develop a long range missile and then sell it to rogue nations like Iran. Worse still, this will open a door for the other rogue nations to test the US and push the envelope. They should have shot that sucker down.

    April 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. nada

    Nancy, c'mon now, you can honestly sit there and say you haven't been keepin tabs on how much this Pres' has done? I mean if you supported him then you obviously know the axis of the situation. and as the saying goes, if you cant be part of a solution then you're part of the problem. So Nancy, tell me how fast do you think it takes to undo and make all the wrong bush farts get back right or go away? He's one man and it seems as if he has more americans against him now then before the election. lets just wait and see, and then after his first 12 months we can come back here and compare notes. If this were bush, we be in another war before we finish our first two, one in which is not related to terrorists at all until we went there.....

    April 5, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. CHANGE we need

    His reaction??? The same as GWB just sitting there for 7 minutes after the beginning of Sept 11 2001 attacks.

    He is just sitting there...get ready for the double standard from the DemacRATS. Mark my words, his 'patience' will be seen as 'not wanting to overreact' and a 'balance in diplomacy'.

    What a shame.

    April 5, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. Peter

    Wow, so many pathetic and untrue remarks from right-wingers! President Obama is doing a great job so far and has my full support. What a relief after 8 years of dark ages!

    April 5, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. Nisey01

    Obama gets oft-debated early morning call on N. Korea
    And he was ready. Ready from Day 1. Hey HATERS, remember the saying, “if you don’t have nothing to say, then don’t say nothing”. It is still true and it would do you good to exercise it to help savage whatever little intelligence you may behold. Have respect for yourself and your country, we true Americans are proud of our country. President Obama is exercising grand expertise for the most, especially with correcting much mess from the previous administration and being intact and abreast in his own administration. Keep up the good work President Obama and much love. God bless America!

    April 5, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Justin, VA

    Wow….As a Republican and a service member with almost 30-years in the U.S. Air Force it is comical to me how some people claim they are “FAIR AND BALANCED” and do not want to give our president a chance to do his job. Whether you like it or not the man was voted into power and we all as a Americans need to give him a chance. If your team wins the Super Bowl by 50 points or by 1 point, your team is still the WINNER! So the argument about how many people didn’t vote for him is as you know is pure B.S.!!! Has anyone ever asked the question about his daughters? Do you honestly believe in your mind that Mr Obama wants this country to be socialist or communist or what ever other rhetoric some spew on here? All this talk about Mr Obama is destroying our country but at the same time we’re trying to destroy each other from within. This is what really concerns me. That internal strife gives our enemies more ammunition to try and destroy us. By the way: Before anyone decides they want to start making comments: I’m 48 years old and have been working since I was 14 years old, never been on welfare and put myself through college. I have served all over the United States and overseas to include tours in Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan supporting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.


    30 Years in the U.S. Air Force
    Proud of and believes in this country and supports our president regardless of who the predisent is (Democrat or Republican)

    April 5, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  10. Gop For America

    Obama is a lot like Clinton on how he deals with issues. He raises taxes without cutting back Government spending! He blames others for his own faults!

    He tells dictators you had better not launch your rockets and when they do, he wakes up talks a bit then goes back to bed and dreams of world peace! He also looks at poll after poll to see how much more the media and American Democrats love him. He wants to play the roll of president but does not want to do the hard work that comes with the job. One day most of you Obama lovers will have to face up to all Obamas shortcomings and wish you have never voted for him. The good news in 4 years you get the chance to not repeat your mistake in 08!!!

    April 5, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  11. Mary

    I wish someone coild answer this question, what use is it to continue having wars??? we did this one before and here we are back watching them launch a missel next it will be at the U.S it seems that we should have learned that sending our people to different countries to fight and kill has solved nothing. we just wait a few years and that same country will be back wanting to wage more war. Why is it we have never tried to just mind our own business and protect our own country and its borders from illegals who come here use our resources, have the tax payer pay their way. why are we unable to make the laws that we have work, if you are coming here then come legally, or be deported, safe guard our land and people protect us and what is ours, help when able to those in need, we need to clean up our own house before we butt into everyone elses business. bring the troop home let them protect our land and borders, mind our own business.

    April 5, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  12. Robert Bergley

    Most of the time it's better to ignore a child that is "acting out" instead of beating him.

    That's entirely the case here, it is in our political best interest to show the rest of the world we're not a bunch of trigger-happy, simpletons.

    Practice what you preach, not what the pundits try to cram down your throat.

    If any of the pundits had any real leadership skills or ambitions, they would be working in the political world and not the entertainment world.

    April 5, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Mike In Texas

    After eight years of the incompetence that was the Bush Administration, I have to pinch myself everytime I see President Obama acting in a rational, intelligent manner just to be sure I'm not dreaming. Kudos to our President and the brilliant Cabinet members and advisors he has chosen to help him govern! We really might get through this in one piece afterall!

    April 5, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. Washingtonian

    Geez, would some of you commentors calm down. Japan, Russia and the US had military support not only in the sea of Japan, but out in the waters off Korea and out in the pacific off our coasts. The best thing to do is not overreact and start WW3.

    April 5, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Missy in KY

    North Korea was a threat way before President Obama took office. Let's not try to blame him – he's trying to salvage this country. The last eight -year administration made so many enemies, as proven!

    April 5, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Lori

    what a change from the fear tactics of the previous administration. Thank goodness Obama is our President!

    @ Nada: It only seems as if more people are against President Obama because of the media coverage but it is only the Republicans and some conservative Independents. The majority of Americans support our President and are aware that it is the Republicans who are a part of the problem and have no solutions. That's why they're so threatened.

    April 5, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Mark

    Wow, how long was the korean war again,?
    And how many soldiers lost??

    Dan the NK can reach our boarders,they can kick our butts in a ground war. Yes! the proper thing would to be to let China regulate them.

    because any war with NK would involve China.

    and in response to Armegeddon from 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."

    prophecies also state that Armageddon wont be a war with bombs it would be a political war.
    "the eagle will defeat the bear but the dragon will devoure the eagle."
    The united states is cut off from every direction China runs the locks in Panama,china is looking into investments in Cuba, NK is set to keep any sanctions at bay for any trans continental travel.

    America is in trouble just look around at the wolrd we have created, our electronics come from tiawan and china,our steel is sold off to china,but we buy inferior steel back from them, we are not the main suppliers of food anymore" America dont feed the world but we do burn it",our education is lacking in alot of needed areas,NAFTA really put that one on us,the Automotive makers are suffering ..yea their own fault but the government will end up holding that debt. still trying to find out why a automobile cost so much when the labor usage has been so reduced to robotics ..I mean is the electric bill that high? no insurance cost for workers there are not that many as they used to be. but the cost of imported steel and electronics drives the cost,along with the silk pockets of management.
    Obama has alot of work ahead of him he is a wordsmith and that is exactly what weapon we need in a pre-Armageddon world.

    April 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  18. Mark

    Don't worry people, Obama will ask for a stimulus package of $1 trillion to create a Czar of N Korea missile affairs.

    April 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. pallas

    I see the responses on here criticizing Obama for not "shooting down" a missile test.

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We just came through 8 years of responding to "threats" in countries that did not attack us and meanwhile letting US bankers rob the house. We are broke and American families are falling apart along with our schools, our roads, our homes, and our healthcare.

    Get it straight: US is the not the world's policeman. North Korea is a problem for the world and all sovereign nations who are disturbed by their behavior must PAY for a solution.

    Spend MY tax dollars on MY neighborhood and re-build US (as in USA) from the inside out.

    April 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. BV

    I just want to know what all you smarties think Obama should have done? Start dropping bombs on North Korea? Jump start another war with out consulting the UN Security Council and the International Community? Sure shoot down the missle and really make the North Koreans mad. You Bush reacters need to cool your heals and put your brain caps on. This country can't afford another war. We need to work every angle possible before we jump like a bunch of Chenny/ Bush wackers into something that has the potential to set the whole world against us.

    April 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. Dave

    In case you right wing clowns haven't noticed... 1) shrub had issues with N korea for what...hhhmmm 8 years and did absolutely NOTHING with them, yet you criticize the new president that has been in office for less than 3 months...just a td hippocritical............

    Then you have shrub who runs this economy into the toilet for what again??? 8 years thats right.... and yet President OBAMA has been in office LESS than 3 months and what??? oh yeah... the stock market is climbing and it looks like he finally got the recession to halt it's nosedive.

    you CONSERVATIVES are the ones drinking any so called KOOLAID that you are all so fond of talking about.

    you CONSERVATIVES are freaking delusional.. you are a minority now and Liberals hold the majority... hahahaha, get used to it. you had 8 years and absolutely BLEW IT...

    good riddance GOP.. (GOT 0 PLAN )

    April 5, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Oil Worker in Texas

    First of all to Tom....If you're so ashamed to be an American perhaps a country like Saudi Arabia or China would be more to your liking. In those countries a post like yours would get you execeuted. Now isn't American free speech great!

    Secondly, to all those who believe that President Obama is weak for not shooting the rocket down need to learn a little something about international law. Had we attacked that rocket without U.N. Security Council sanctioning it would have been considered an act of war.

    Furthermore if you remember anything about The Korean Conflict/War the UN Coalition was unable to defeat the North Koreans, because the Chineese backed them militarily. Gen. MacArthur wanted to A-bomb N. Korea, but China threatened to do the same to us. Considering how much of the Iraq War debt has been financed by the Chineese (thanks Goerge W. Bush) we can ill afford further strained relations with them.

    Finally we are neither economicaly nor militarily in shape to engage in hostilities with China.

    April 5, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. LAW

    I am really happy that Obama is smart enough to continue with the war in Afghanistan. He and George Bush are one and the same when it comes to this war. Neither feared the wake-up call. Frankly, I am very pleased that nothing has changed with our war policy. Obama had to lie about his intentions, but that is okay because he would not have been elected if he had told the truth. He is a smart man.

    April 5, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. Gop For America

    Nisey01 April 5th, 2009 1:04 pm ET

    Obama gets oft-debated early morning call on N. Korea
    And he was ready. Ready from Day 1. Hey HATERS, remember the saying, “if you don’t have nothing to say, then don’t say nothing”. It is still true and it would do you good to exercise it to help savage whatever little intelligence you may behold. Have respect for yourself and your country.

    Wow i find this very odd. I was sure for the last 8 years you and your kind spit out hate for Bush every day and told others it was the Patriotic thing an American could do.

    Just like paying higher taxes was also Patriotic unless your nominated for say the head of the IRS. Then cheating on your taxes is just fine and a Patriotic thing to do.

    Again people like you only use the line Patriotic when you have foul things to say about our president but when the shoe is on the other foot you get upset over us being just as Patriotic!

    April 5, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. janimarie0207

    The U.S. has imposed sanctions against NK since 1950 up until present. Numerous additional sanctions were imposed by Bush in 2005 and 2006. How many sanctions are presently imposed agains N. Korea? 20? 30? 40? It doeesn't hurt them at all, they are so used to it. China is the one who needs to come down on them to hurt them. To say that President Obama is suggesting something new or that is amazing is just plain wrong. As a matter of fact, when Bush was imposing new sanctions there were all kinds of people crying and protesting that we couldn't do that, it might hurt their people. Now the suggestion is taken by some as wisdom and leadership at its' best?? Hmmmm

    April 5, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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