President Obama may be in Indiana to talk about the economy, but North Korea’s attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island was very much on his mind.
White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton gaggled with reporters on Air Force One as the president flew to Grissom Air Force Base in Peru, Indiana, en route to Kokomo.
As we reported on Good Morning America, President Obama later today will be calling South Korean President Lee to express American solidarity.
"The president is outraged by this action,” Burton said. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with South Korea….North Korea has a pattern of doing things that are provocative. This is a part of that pattern."
No word yet on what specific actions the U.S. government or international community might take to express their ire. A UN Security Council resolution? More sanctions? Tied to or separate from reports of a new uranium enrichment facility? All to be determined.
National Security Advisor Tom Donilon called the President and woke him up at 3:55 AM to update him on the situation, and the president got a further update during his daily intelligence briefing this morning. Top aides worked throughout the night from their home offices on secure teleconference lines, with a presence in the Situation Room.
Special Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Stephen Bosworth was already in Beijing with a full agenda for his meeting with the Chinese — talking mainly about reports of North Korea's new uranium enrichment facility. This was added to the agenda. Before he left for China, Bosworth told reporters “we regard this development with great seriousness,” but added “we do not consider it a crisis.”
Of significance in the White House statement is the use of the word "attack" to describe North Korea's action — an indication the US is standing firmly with South Korea and is asserting the action was a violation of the 1953 armistice.