WASHINGTON // The US said North Korea's launch of a long-range ballistic missile is a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security," as the world reacts to Pyongyang's defiance.
Tommy Vietor, the US National Security Council spokesman, calls the launch "another example of North Korea's pattern of irresponsible behaviour."
In a statement released today, Mr Vietor said the US "remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations."
The United Nations, the US, South Korea and others see the launch as a cover for a test of technology for missiles that could be used to strike another nation with a nuclear warhead.
Mr Vietor said the US will work with other nations and the UN Security Council "to pursue appropriate action" against North Korea.
UN leader Ban Ki-moon also condemned North Korea's missile launch as a "provocative act" in clear breach of UN Security Council resolutions, his spokesman said.
"The secretary-general is concerned about the negative consequences that this provocative act may have on peace and stability in the region," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
China, the North's sole ally, also rapped the rocket launch, demanding North Korea comply with UN resolutions against using ballistic missiles, the official news agency Xinhua said.
"Pyongyang should ... abide by relevant UN Security Council resolutions ... which demands the DPRK not to conduct 'any launch using ballistic missile technology' and urges it to 'suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme', the news agency said.
"All parties concerned should stay cool-headed and refrain from stoking the flames so as to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control.
"In place of bellicose rhetoric and gestures, they need to take concrete actions to foster a conducive milieu for dialogue and return to the negotiating table as soon as possible."