The North's rocket launch triggered protests in South Korea [AFP]

World leaders and editorials in regional newspapers react to North Korea's rocket launch and apparent attempt to place a satellite in space.

Barack Obama, US president - "North Korea broke the rules, once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles.... It creates instability in their region, around the world. This provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon in the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons."

In depth


 Photo: N Korea's launch site
 Video: N Korea's arsenal
 North Korea: A state of war
 Outcry over N Korea rocket

Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader - "It is a striking demonstration ... that our scientists and technicians developed both the multistage carrier rocket and the satellite with their own wisdom and technology 100 percent and accurately put the satellite into orbit at one go."

Lee Myung-bak, South Korean president - "North Korea's reckless act that threatens regional and global security cannot be justified under any circumstances... The government will deal firmly and sternly with the North's provocation."

Yoo Myung-hwan, South Korean foreign minister - "The North's launch is a provocative act that clearly violates UN Security Council [Resolution] 1718 that regardless of the North's claims threatens peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia... This government and the international community is deeply disappointed that the North went ahead with the long-range missile at the enormous cost that could resolve its chronic food shortage.

Taro Aso, Japanese prime minister - "The fact that North Korea went ahead with the launch despite repeated warnings from around the world, especially the United States, South Korea and Japan, was an extremely provocative act and one that Japan cannot let go unchallenged."

Takeo  Kawamura, Japanese government spokesman - "The launch is a clear threat to North East Asia's security and this notion won't change. We will continue to protest firmly and urge the international community to act towards North Korea."

Hirofumi Nakasone, Japanese foreign minister - "China and Russia have agreed to the notion that the launch is a threat to the region; however, they seem very
discreet about the matter."

Kim Jong-il reportedly oversaw Sunday's launch preparations [Reuters]
Zhang Yesui, Chinese Ambassador to the UN - "We're now in a very sensitive moment ... Our position is that all countries concerned should show restraint and refrain from taking actions that might lead to increased tensions."

Jiang Yu, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman - "We hope related parties stay calm and exercise restraint, appropriately deal with it and together maintain peace and stability in this region. The Chinese side is willing to continue to play a constructive role."

Andrei Nesterenko, Russian foreign ministry spokesman – "We are checking whether this [launch] is not a violation of certain resolutions of the UN Security Council and call on all sides to refrain from actions that could lead to escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula."

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general - "Given the volatility in the region ... such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace and stability."

Editorial, The Japan Times, Tokyo – "Although the North has the right to launch a satellite for peaceful use of space, Sunday's launch, even if it did put a satellite in orbit, threatens to destabilise the security situation in Northeast Asia and beyond... It is not known whether North Korea has the capability to equip missiles with nuclear weapons. But the launch alarms the international community about the danger that the North may acquire such capabilities."

Editorial, Chosun Ilbo (English version), Seoul – "While coming up with short-term measures such as sanctions, [the South Korean] government must devise with a fundamental strategy to protect the nation’s security and to manage North Korea under threat from its nuclear and long-range missile capabilities... As seen in the unusual internal strife over the heir to Kim Jong-il following his health problems last year, the North faces an unstable period where anything can happen at any time. It would be terrifying if North Korea veers out of control while it is equipped with nuclear weapons and missiles."

Editorial, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong – "Rockets and missiles are one and the same. North Korea has for more than a decade threatened neighbouring Japan and South Korea with its short- and long-range missile tests.... It cannot under any circumstances be allowed to move to the logical next stage: launching a nuclear warhead atop its long-range Taepodong-2 ballistic missile."

Source: Agencies