The United States and its allies Friday condemned North Korea's failed rocket launch as a provocative act that threatens regional security, while China, Russia and India urged restraint on all sides.
North Korea, which had described the launch as that of a space satellite, said the rocket failed soon after lift-off and plunged into the Pacific.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon termed the launch "deplorable", the term also later used by the 15-member U.N. Security Council, and said it "defies the firm and unanimous stance of the international community".
The White House said that "North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry.
"Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea's provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments," said spokesman Jay Carney.
The Security Council -- where permanent members China and Russia have veto power -- chose more moderate language and deplored the launch as a violation of its previous resolutions against Pyongyang.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, said the council members had "agreed to continue consultations on an appropriate response", but said it was "premature" to say what kind of measure it might take.
"We think a credible reaction is important," she said.
Beijing, Pyongyang's closest ally, urged world and regional powers to work to reopen long stalled six-party talks between the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and China.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, after meeting with his Chinese and Indian counterparts in Moscow, said: "We are convinced that the reaction to these challenges needs to be exclusively diplomatic and political."
"We call on all parties to show maximum responsibility and restraint and to make efforts for a renewal of six party talks," Lavrov said.
"We do not believe in new sanctions. They would not do anything from the standpoint of settling the situation," he added.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Beijing had been working hard to avoid further tensions and was disappointed with Pyongyang's decision to proceed with the launch.
Yang said China was "concerned by North Korea's decision" and expressed hope that all sides "will promote mutual understanding through joint efforts and promote the six party process."
The three giant regional powers also recognized North Korea's right to pursue space exploration and said Pyongyang would be welcome to conduct launches once it cooperates with the United Nations.
North Korea's "right to use outer space for peaceful purposes can be realized exclusively in the context of the lifting of corresponding limitations," their joint statement said.
Washington's key regional allies, South Korea and Japan, spoke in unison, blasting the launch as a contravention of U.N. resolutions.
South Korea spoke of a "provocative act" and "a clear breach of the U.N. resolution that prohibits any launch using ballistic missile technology".
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said: "Even if it was a failure, it is a grave provocation to our country and other countries concerned and violates U.N. Security Council resolutions."
Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight powers -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the U.S. -- jointly called on North Korea to refrain from future attempts.
The European Union described North Korea's action as "dangerous and destabilizing."
NATO said it "undermines efforts to reduce tensions and increase transparency and trust in the Korean peninsula and the wider region".
Australia was in lockstep with its Western allies, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard urging a "robust response" from the Security Council, while Canada called the communist regime's behavior "reckless and provocative."
Indonesia struck a cautious note, urging calm in the wake of the launch.
"More than ever, it is vital that diplomacy and dialogue be placed at the forefront in order to ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula," Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.
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