The White House warned North Korea on Thursday that a missile launch it is suspected of planning for next month would be "provocative" and would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions. But North Korea warned that it will take strong steps if the U.N. Security Council debates its launch plans.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had a clear statement on North Korea's anticipated missile launch.
"We believe that such a launch would be provocative and that such a launch would be in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions," he said.
Reports say that North Korea has moved a multi-stage missile to a launch pad. Pyongyang says the rocket is designed to carry a communications satellite into orbit. But the United States, Japan and South Korea suspect the communist state will use the launch to test a long-range ballistic missile.
White House Press Secretary Gibbs echoed remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Mexico on Wednesday, saying that a North Korean missile launch, for any purpose, would be provocative and a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Clinton was not specific about diplomatic action that might be taken if there is a launch, other than to say it would have consequences.
At the White House, Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the United States also wants a nuclear free North Korea.
"We continue to maintain the goal of a de-nuclearized North Korea, and look to working with our allies to ensure that that happens," he said.
Earlier, North Korea warned that any action by the U.N. Security Council to punish Pyongyang for a missile launch would be considered a "hostile act" that would trigger the breakdown of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
If the launch goes forward, analysts note it could be the first big foreign policy test for President Barack Obama.
A U.S. State Department official says envoys from Japan, South Korea and the United States are expected to meet in Washington on Friday to discuss the situation.