The Obama administration is advising patience in efforts to develop a unified response in the U.N. Security Council to North Korea's test of a long-range ballistic missile on Sunday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had telephone discussions on the issue Tuesday with her Russian and Chinese counterparts.
Officials here said the fact that three days have elapsed without a U.N. Security Council condemnation of North Korea for its missile test does not represent a failure of U.S. diplomacy. They said the Obama administration's emphasis is on an appropriate - rather than speedy - response.
The Security Council convened on Sunday, within hours of the North Korean test, which the United States says violated a 2006 Security Council resolution and should not go unpunished.
But the full council has not reconvened for action, amid reports that Russia, China and some other members of the 15-nation panel are resisting calls for tightening sanctions on North Korea.
At a State Department press event with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, Secretary Clinton advised patience on the issue, saying that while 72 hours without action may seem like a long time for television news, it is not a long time in international relations or in the affairs of the Security Council.
State Department Acting Spokesman Robert Wood sounded a similar theme, saying that the United States is seeking a proper response on a complicated matter.
"This is not something you can expect that's going to be solved immediately. This is going to take a little time. This is an important issue. We want to make sure we get it right. We want to have the right response to what the North has done. So we're going to continue to work very hard on this track. But you need to understand and have some patience with this process," he said.
Wood said Clinton had spoken by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, apparently in pursuit of a compromise in the Security Council.
U.S. officials have signaled flexibility, saying that a new council resolution or a consensus policy statement would be a proper outcome, provided it contained sufficiently strong language condemning Pyongyang's actions.
The United States, Japan and South Korea said the launch of the three-stage missile was a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1718, which was adopted unanimously in 2006 after North Korea's underground nuclear explosion. It demanded an end to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests.
North Korea said the launch was an attempt to put a satellite into orbit. China has suggested that North Korea is entitled to do so as a peaceful act of space exploration.
U.S. officials said the launch, under whatever guise, violated the Security Council resolution. The U.S. military said no part of the rocket, which traveled more than 3,000 kilometers, reached orbit despite Pyongyang's claims to the contrary.
Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said the credibility and authority of the Security Council will be undermined if it fails to respond to the North Korean violation.