Republican White House contenders on Saturday called for a tough strategy toward North Korea, including expanded missile defense, after the reclusive communist nation appeared to have launched a long-range rocket into space.
US Strategic Command said on Saturday its systems had detected what it believed to be a North Korean missile launch that was tracked on a southern trajectory over the Yellow Sea.
Republicans slammed President Barack Obama and previous Democratic administrations over the incident, as well as North Korea's recent detainment of a US university student who was traveling there on a New Year trip.
"They do not understand anything but toughness and strength," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said of North Korea during the eighth Republican presidential debate.
"We need a strong commander in chief who will look these folks in the eye and say, 'We will not put up with this.'"
Republicans on the stage in New Hampshire called for a range of responses, including new sanctions and a potential preemptive strike against North Korea's missiles to prevent Pyongyang from hurting civilians.