WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says North Korea's launch of a long-range ballistic missile is a "highly provocative act that threatens regional security."
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is calling the launch "another example of North Korea's pattern of irresponsible behavior."
In a statement released late Tuesday, Vietor says the U.S. "remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations."
The United Nations, the U.S., South Korea and others see the launch as a cover for a test of technology for missiles that could be used to strike another nation with a nuclear warhead.
Vietor says the U.S. will work with other nations and the U.N Security Council "to pursue appropriate action" against North Korea.
Meanwhile, the North American Aerospace Defense Command says North Korea appears to have launched "an object" into Earth orbit, but neither the missile used nor debris from the launch are a threat to North America.
NORAD officials said U.S. missile warning systems detected and tracked the launch at 7:49 p.m. EST Tuesday. The missile was tracked in a southerly direction.
NORAD said initial indications were that the first stage of the rocket fell into the Yellow Sea and that the second stage fell into the Philippine Sea.
Quoting a NORAD news release: "Initial indications are that the missile deployed an object that appeared to achieve orbit. At no time was the missile or the resultant debris a threat to North America."
NORAD is based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.