The White House late Thursday criticized North Korea's missile launch, saying it jeopardizes the region's security — but President Obama's likely Republican opponent in the elections said his administration is to blame for the situation getting this far.
"The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations, and is fully committed to the security our allies in the region," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement after North Korea tested a missile.
Officials from the U.S. and its Asian allies believe the rocket launch was a means of testing what could eventually become a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
Those officials said the test was a failure and the rocket disintegrated soon after liftoff.
Still, Mr. Carney said it was a dangerous move.
"North Korea's long-standing development of missiles and pursuit of nuclear weapons have not brought it security – and never will," he said. He said, however, that the U.S. remains ready to "engage constructively" with North Korea.
Mitt Romney, Republicans' likely nominee to try to defeat Mr. Obama in November, said the president's approach has actually "emboldened" the rogue state — and said the missile launch is the latest evidence of that.
"Its weapons program poses a clear and growing threat to the United States, one for which President Obama has no effective response," he said.
He criticized the president for a recent promise of food aid for North Korea, and said it meant forgoing the "position of strength" the U.S. should rely on.
"At the same time, he has cut critical U.S. missile defense programs and continues to underfund them," Mr. Romney said. "This incompetence from the Obama Administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and our allies."
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