Washington: The US led the world on Sunday in condemning North Korea's missile launch with President Barack Obama calling it a "provocative act". China called for calm to prevail while Russia urged the international community to show restraint in its reaction.
"North Korea's development and proliferation of ballistic missile technology pose a threat to the north-east Asian region and to international peace and security," Obama said in a statement issued from Prague, where he is to attend a US-European Union Summit.
The White House said the launch of what it identified as a Taepodong 2 missile was in violation of a UN Security Council resolution that bans Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile activities.
"With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations," Obama said.
Shortly after the launch was confirmed, the Japanese government lodged a protest with the Stalinist state, calling its act a threat to "regional peace and stability".
Prime Minister Taro Aso condemned the act and said it "cannot be overlooked".
"We have to say that it is an act of provocation against security and a violation of UN Security Council resolutions," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said. "It is extremely regrettable."
The European Union (EU) strongly condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket. A statement issued by the Czech government, which currently holds the EU's sixth-month rotating presidency, said the North Korean action placed additional strains on regional stability and was contrary to UN resolutions.
"These actions place additional strains on regional stability at a time when the unresolved nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula requires mutual confidence building," the EU said. "Such actions are also a matter of more general concern due to their global proliferation implications," the statement said.
The EU called on North Korea to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme and abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes "in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband criticised North Korea's rocket launching and accused Pyongyang of pursuing a "hostile policy" towards the world.
Miliband said that the launch was part of North Korea's "ballistic missile programme" and so it violated a UN Security Council resolution.
"While Pyongyang continues to pursue a hostile policy towards the rest of the world, it cannot hope to take its rightful place within the international community.
"I strongly urge North Korea to cease immediately all further missile-related activity and commit to engaging constructively with international partners," he said.
The Chinese government called for calm to prevail after the Sunday's launch was confirmed. "We hope relevant parties will exercise restraint and remain calm, properly handle and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region," the foreign ministry said in a statement from Beijing. "China is willing to continue to play a constructive role."
Russia urged the international community to show restraint in its reaction to Sunday's controversial rocket launch by North Korea. Military experts must investigate the incident in order to give a conclusive assessment, Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Sunday, the Interfax news agency reported.
New Zealand joined international condemnation of North Korea's satellite launch, saying it had not helped efforts to build peace and stability in the region.
"North Korea's actions are provocative, despite their claim that the satellite launch was for peaceful, scientific purposes," Foreign Minister Murray McCully said in a statement.
The Singapore government said it regretted North Korea's rocket launch and called for a stable and nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.