Sarkozy calls on world to punish North Korea
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday assailed North Korea's rocket launch and called on governments to unite and "punish a regime that respects no international rules."PARIS - "This is a provocation by North Korea. This is a regime that is acting outside international law," Sarkozy said in a French television interview.
"There is only one response and that is the international community coming together to punish a regime that respects no international rules."
North Korea said it had put into orbit a satellite from the launch of an Unha-2 rocket at 11:20 am (0220 GMT) Sunday, raising alarm in world capitals and prompting the UN Security Council to call an emergency meeting.
The US military disputed the claim saying the "payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean" and that no object entered orbit.
France, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, made clear it was ready to join other world powers to examine fresh sanctions on North Korea.
"I condemn this provocation in the strongest terms," Sarkozy told TF1 television from Prague where he was attending an EU-US summit overshadowed by concerns over North Korea's actions.
Sarkozy drew a parallel with Iran, accused of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and said the international community must isolate such regimes and "call for tougher sanctions for as long as it takes for them to understand that they must not aggressively seek military nuclear power."
The UN Security council was to meet Sunday at 1900 GMT in New York.
"France will advocate for a very tough response, as it has always done, toward North Korea," Sarkozy's chief of staff Claude Gueant told French radio.
"It is now up to the international community, and France of course will support this effort, to decide on the sanctions that must be taken," he said.
The French foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the launch and calling for an international response to "this act that threatens peace and stability in the region."
France said the launch was in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1718 which bars North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities.
But Gueant added that "the launch that took place is not illegal per se. The concern is that the device that was launched could be used not for communications satellites but to carry weapons, particularly nuclear weapons."
France is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council along with the United States, Russia, Britain and China.