The White House vowed “consequences” on Wednesday after North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket that appears to put the United States within range of a nuclear strike.

The move violates several U.N. Security Council resolutions and forces President Obama to deal with the reclusive communist nation at a time of percolating unrest in the Middle East and elsewhere.

It also gives Republicans new openings to attack the president’s leadership on national-security issues through criticism of both his outreach to North Korea and his efforts to curtail spending on missile defense.

“There has and remains a path for North Korea to end its isolation, but that requires abiding by its international obligations, abiding by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at Wednesday’s press briefing. “And it has chosen not to, and therefore, there will be consequences for that. I don’t have a preview of next steps, but we take this matter very seriously … and we are not alone.”