WASHINGTON– The North Koreans “have taken a provocative action,” President Obama told reporters in Prague today.He said the North Koreans’ April 4, three-stage missile launch “creates instability in their region, (and) around the world.”

“If they want to take an appropriate path to rejoin the international community and break out of their isolation, that’s available to them,” Obama said. “That’s not the path they’re taking right now. And, we intend to work with the international community to deliver a strong message.”

Obama told an audience this morning that the North Korean missile launch was provocative and had violated UN international security rules.

“Once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles, this provocation underscores the need for action, not just this afternoon at the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons,” Obama said.

“Rules must be binding; violations must be punished; words must mean something,” Obama continued. ”The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response.”

Also today in Prague, Obama announced his intention to work for the worldwide removal of all nuclear weapons.

“Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century,” he said. “And as nuclear power — as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.

The North Korean missile passed over Japan but jettisoned no debris there, according to the U.S. Northern Command news release issued today. The missile failed to achieve orbit and fell back into the Pacific Ocean without incident.

The missile’s flight path had presented no threat to North America or Hawaii, the release stated.

According to news reports, the UN Security Council has scheduled an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the North Korean missile launch issue.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today also signaled his displeasure with North Korea’s missile launch.

“Given the volatility in the region, as well as a stalemate in interaction among the concerned parties, such a launch is not conducive to efforts to promote dialogue, regional peace or stability,” the Secretary-General said in a statement released today.

The secretary general cited the North Korean missile launch as a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which prohibits North Korea from making such launches or conducting nuclear-weapons research.

Some observers believe that North Korea had tested a nuclear-type weapon in 2006.

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