The U.N. Security Council "deplored" Friday North Korea's defiant but botched rocket launch, stopping short of condemning the move, as was done by the United States and its allies.
"Members of the Security Council deplored this launch, which is in violation of Security Council resolutions," said U.S. envoy to the United Nations Susan Rice, who chaired the meeting hours after Pyongyang's failure to launch the long-range rocket.
She said council members would continue consultations "on an appropriate response" to North Korea but did not elaborate on when the possible responses might come or what they would be.
"We think a credible reaction is important," Rice said.
Nuclear-armed North Korea defied international warnings and fired the long-range rocket, but it broke up a couple of minutes after take off and crashed into the sea.
The hardline communist state, in a rare admission about four hours after the launch, said that a satellite carried by the rocket failed to enter orbit.
The United States and its allies had condemned North Korea's move, calling it a "provocative" move in blatant violation of U.N. resolutions.
While Pyongyang said the rocket was intended to send a satellite into orbit, the United States and its allies said the move was a disguised missile test, contravening U.N. sanctions.
The 15-member U.N. Security Council's decision to deplore the launch Friday was viewed as more moderate compared to condemnations heaped on the hermit state by Western powers and U.S. allies South Korea and Japan.
Council members China, North Korea's main ally, Russia and India were more measured in their reaction.
"We hope all parties can demonstrate calmness and restraint, and not undermine the peace and the stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said, according to China's official Xinhua news agency.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Yang to convey Washington's concern to North Korea.
"We're asking them to use their relationship with North Korea to convey our concern about their recent actions," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Since North Korea announced its plan to launch the satellite in conjunction with the 100th birthday of its deceased founder Kim Il Sung, Yang said China had been concerned about the situation and endeavored to encourage Pyongyang "on the right track," Xinhua reported.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also termed the launch "deplorable," saying it "defies the firm and unanimous stance of the international community."
Amid speculations that North Korea may now resort to conducting a nuclear test to show its military strength, Ban urged Pyongyang not to undertake any further provocative actions that would heighten tension in the region.
"The possibility of an additional long-range rocket launch or a nuclear test, as well as a military provocation to strengthen internal solidarity is very high," a senior South Korean defence ministry official told a parliamentary hearing in Seoul.
The North Korean rocket move also violated a February agreement in which Pyongyang agreed to a partial nuclear freeze and a missile and nuclear test moratorium in return for 240,000 tons of U.S. food aid.
The White House said Friday it will not go forward with the planned food aid.
"Their efforts to launch a missile clearly demonstrate that they could not be trusted to keep their commitments," White House National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes said.
"Therefore, we are not going forward with an agreement to provide them with any assistance," he said, warning that North Korea faces additional sanctions if it defies the international community again by taking further "provocative" steps.
Reported by RFA's Korean service. Written in English with additional reporting by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.