The missile launch by North Korea defies UN Security Council resolutions and harms peace and stability in northeast Asia, the European Union and the United States said in a joint statement issued Sunday.

''We call on North Korea to honor its commitment to abandon all nuclear weapons programs, to abide by recognized norms of international relations, and to work to promote peace and stability in northeast Asia. North Korea's development of a ballistic missile capability, regardless of the stated purpose of this launch, is aimed at providing it with the ability to threaten countries near and far with weapons of mass destruction, the statement said.

The launch of the missile demands a response from the international community, including from the UN Security Council to demonstrate that its resolutions cannot be defied with impunity, it added.

Further, the statement added that the U.S. and the European Union are prepared to work with others in''welcoming into the international community a North Korea that abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and policy of threats aimed at its neighbors and that protects the rights of its people. Such a North Korea could share in the prosperity and development that the remainder of northeast Asia has achieved in recent years, it said.

The statement added that North Korea cannot realize international acceptance or economic development linked to the international system until it ceases its threatening behavior and works with the other parties to implement the September 19, 2005 Six-Party Joint Statement.

Defying appeals from the international community to back out of its earlier announced launch plans, North Korea on Sunday launched a long-range rocket over the Pacific from its Musudan-ri launch site at 0230 GMT.

Reacting to the news, U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier that North Korea's provocation underscores the need for action -- not just this afternoon at the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons, Obama said.

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