South Korea's Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan at the UN
headquarters where the Security Council met in an emergency
session after North Korea's third nuclear weapons test.
North Korea has conducted its third nuclear test in
defiance of UN resolutions, drawing condemnation from around
the world, including from its only major ally, China, which
summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest.
Pyongyang said the test was an act of self-defence against
"US hostility" and threatened stronger steps if necessary.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting at which
its members, including China, "strongly condemned" the test
and vowed to start work on appropriate measures in response,
the president of the council said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to
rule the country, has presided over two long-range rocket
launches and a nuclear test during his first year in power,
pursuing policies that have propelled his impoverished and
malnourished country closer to becoming a nuclear weapons
North Korea said the test had "greater explosive force" than
those it conducted in 2006 and 2009. Its KCNA news agency
said it had used a "miniaturised" and lighter nuclear device,
indicating it had again used plutonium, which is suitable for
use as a missile warhead.
China, which has shown signs of increasing exasperation with
the recent bellicose tone of its reclusive neighbour,
summoned the North Korean ambassador in Beijing and protested
sternly, the Foreign Ministry said.
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said China was "strongly
dissatisfied and resolutely opposed" to the test and urged
North Korea to "stop any rhetoric or acts that could worsen
situations and return to the right course of dialogue and
consultation as soon as possible".
Analysts said the test was a major embarrassment to China,
which is a permanent member of the Security Council and North
Korea's sole major economic and diplomatic ally, because it
cast doubt on the extent of Beijing's influence over its
US President Barack Obama called the test a "highly
provocative act" that hurt regional stability and pressed for
"The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities
warrants further swift and credible action by the
international community. The United States will also continue
to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies,"
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said
Washington and its allies intended to "augment the sanctions
regime" already in place due to Pyongyang's previous atomic
tests. North Korea is already one of the most heavily
sanctioned states in the world and has few external economic
links that can be targeted.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test was a "grave
threat" that could not be tolerated. UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon said the test was a "clear and grave violation" of
U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged North Korea to
abandon its nuclear arms programme and return to talks. NATO
condemned the test as an "irresponsible act" that posed a
grave threat to world peace.
South Korea, still technically at war with North Korea after
a 1950-53 civil war ended in a mere truce, also denounced the
North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the test was "only the
first response we took with maximum restraint".
"If the United States continues to come out with hostility
and complicates the situation, we will be forced to take
stronger, second and third responses in consecutive steps,"
it said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news
North Korea often threatens the United States and its
"puppet", South Korea, with destruction in colourful terms.
North Korea told the U.N. disarmament forum in Geneva that it
would never bow to resolutions on its nuclear programme and
that prospects were "gloomy" for the denuclearisation of the
divided Korean peninsula because of a "hostile" U.S. policy.
Suzanne DiMaggio, an analyst at the Asia Society in New York,
said North Korea had embarrassed China with the test.
"China's inability to dissuade North Korea from carrying
through with this third nuclear test reveals Beijing's
limited influence over Pyongyang's actions in unusually stark
terms," she said.
Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic
Studies think tank, said: "The test is hugely insulting to
China, which now can be expected to follow through with
threats to impose sanctions."
The magnitude of the explosion was roughly twice that of the
2009 test, according to Lassina Zerbo, director of the
international data centre division of the Vienna-based
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization. The U.S.
Geological Survey said that a seismic event measuring 5.1
magnitude had occurred.
North Korea trumpeted the announcement on its state
television channel to patriotic music against a backdrop of
its national flag.
"It was confirmed that the nuclear test that was carried out
at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a
miniaturised and lighter nuclear device with greater
explosive force than previously did not pose any negative
impact on the surrounding ecological environment," KCNA said.
North Korea linked the test to its technical prowess in
launching a long-range rocket in December, a move that
triggered the U.N. sanctions, backed by China, that Pyongyang
said prompted it to take Tuesday's action.
The North's ultimate aim, Washington believes, is to design
an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a
nuclear warhead that could hit the United States. North Korea
says the programme is aimed merely at putting satellites in
Despite its three nuclear tests and long-range rocket tests,
North Korea is not believed to be close to manufacturing a
nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States.
It used plutonium in previous nuclear tests and before
Tuesday there had been speculation that it would use highly
enriched uranium so as to conserve its plutonium stocks, as
testing eats into its limited supply of materials to
construct a nuclear bomb.