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Obama Expresses Concern Over N. Korea Rocket Launch


FILE - President Barack Obama speaks during an interview at the White House.
FILE - President Barack Obama speaks during an interview at the White House.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he is concerned, but not surprised, by North Korea's rocket launch Sunday.

In a CBS interview that aired Monday, Obama said, "I think we have been concerned about North Korea's behavior for a while. This is an authoritarian regime. It's provocative. It has repeatedly violated U.N. resolutions, tested and produced nuclear weapons and now they are trying to perfect their missile launch system."

Obama said he talked with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, before the launch, "about the need to really tighten the noose on them."

He said the United States is also consulting with South Korea "for the first time about more missile defense capabilities to prevent any possibility that North Korea could reach U.S. facilities or U.S. populations" with missile attacks.

The Pentagon said Monday that the United States would like to see the missile defense system deployed to South Korea "at the earliest possible date."

"We feel confident that our posture right now is adequate to the challenge and the task, but we do think adding THAAD [Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile defense system] would simply only improve that posture and improve, if you will, the reassurance level for our allies in the region and for our own forces in the region as well," said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook.

He said the United States and South Korea are beginning formal consultations on THAAD and said he expects the talks to move in an "expeditious fashion."

Obama said Pyongyang's launch Sunday was anticipated.

"They are not very good at feeding their people," Obama said, "but they invest a huge amount in their weapons systems."

VOA's Megan Duzor contributed to this report.