The Pentagon confirmed Monday that North Korea successfully put an object into space during a weekend rocket launch.
Spokesman Peter Cook confirmed that Pyongyang was able “to put a satellite or some space device” into orbit.
The North’s state-run media announced Sunday the successful launch of a satellite, eliciting strong condemnation from the international community. North Korea is barred from using ballistic missile technology under successive United Nations resolutions.
Pyongyang's actions are the sole reason for a potential U.S. missile defense deployment to South Korea, the Obama administration said Monday.
“As it relates to the THAAD deployment, we've made quite clear that the deployment of that equipment and that technology is geared solely at the risk that is posed by North Korea,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. “We're committed to the security of South Korea and that is exactly what this technology is intended to address.”
Widely seen as being one of the closest nations to North Korea, China has long opposed the deployment of the technology to the tense Korean Peninsula.
Beijing fears that in addition to serving as a deterrent to further missile launches, the system could be used for spying.
North Korea last month tested what it said was a hydrogen bomb.
While the claim was met with skepticism in Washington, it has nonetheless heightened concerns over the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The UN Security Council condemned the nuclear test and the launch, but has yet to actually punish Pyongyang.
Security Council members China and Russia have focused their diplomatic efforts on resolving tensions through dialogue even as the U.S. and its regional allies, South Korea and Japan, have called for tougher sanctions on the hermit kingdom.
President Barack Obama is expected to speak with his allied East Asian counterparts, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, within the coming days, according to the White House.