— The U.N. Security Council has condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test and said it will begin work immediately on “appropriate measures” in the form of a council resolution.
Pyongyang confirmed that it carried out its third nuclear test Tuesday. The move defies several U.N. Security Council resolutions and brought quick condemnation from the United States, South Korea, China and other nations.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, whose country holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month, was at the U.N. Tuesday to chair another council meeting. He told reporters after an early morning emergency session on the nuclear test that Pyongyang’s recent long-range missile launches pose a direct challenge to the international community and an unacceptable threat to peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in northeast Asia.
“North Korea will be held responsible for any consequences of this provocative act," Kim said. He added his government would work closely with other nations to see “all necessary measures” imposed to have North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters that the United States and its partners will be discussing the tightening and enhancing of what she characterized as an already “quite strong” sanctions regime against North Korea. She added that they would be interested to see if this third test differs from the two previous ones in its level of success or the quality of the test.
“Whatever the outcome, however, the international community, this council, has been quite clear: The actions of North Korea are a threat to regional peace and security, international peace and security and they are not acceptable, they will not be tolerated, and they will be met with North Korea’s increasing isolation and pressure under United Nations sanctions," said Rice.
An extra edition of a Japanese newspaper was delivered reporting North Korea's nuclear test, in Tokyo, February 12, 2013.
South Korean protesters burn a North Korean flag following a report of the nuclear test conducted by North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, February 12, 2013.
Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Akira Nagai points to a spot on the map showing the quake center during a news conference in Tokyo, February 12, 2013.
South Korean soldiers check military fences as they patrol near the demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, in Paju, north of Seoul, February 12, 2013.
A screen grab of the Nuclear Test Facility site in North Korea, via Google Maps satellite view.
South Korean soldiers monitor computers at the Seoul train station following a report about a possible nuclear test conducted by North Korea, February 12, 2013.
A video grab from KCNA shows the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket launching at North Korea's West Sea Satellite Launch Site, at the satellite control center in Cholsan county, North Pyongang province December 12, 2012.
North Koreans celebrate the successful launch of the Unha-3 rocket at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang December 14, 2012. The sign reads: "Let's glorify dignity and honor of great people of Kim Il Sung and of Korea of Kim Jong Il in the world!"
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, himself a former South Korean foreign minister, called Pyongyang’s test “appalling” and “reckless” and said it shows outright disregard for the repeated call of the international community for North Korea to refrain from further provocative measures.
“The DPRK is the only country that has carried out nuclear tests in the 21st century," he said. "The authorities in Pyongyang should not be under any illusion that nuclear weapons will enhance their security. To the contrary, as Pyongyang pursues nuclear weapons, it will suffer only greater insecurity and isolation.”
In Beijing, the foreign ministry summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest the development.
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The Vienna-based agency that monitors the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty said Tuesday’s test blast was nearly twice as large as the 2009 nuclear test and much larger than the one in 2006.
Security Council members will now begin drafting a resolution that will likely include new sanctions against the impoverished nation. But how tough they will be will depend largely on what North Korea’s veto-wielding ally, China, is willing to accept.