The United States said Tuesday it is working
for quick action in the U.N. Security Council to make North Korea "pay
a price" for its nuclear test Monday. But officials say they still
hope to get Pyongyang to return to Chinese-sponsored disarmament
State Department officials say the United States wants the Security Council to impose tangible costs on North Korea for defying a 2006 resolution and conducting its second nuclear test.
But they also say they want to keep the door open for Pyongyang to come back to the negotiating table, where in 2007 it agreed in principle to scrap its nuclear program for energy aid and diplomatic benefits.
The Obama administration is pleased with the early response from the United Nations, where Russia and China, which have resisted tough action on North Korea, joined in a strong statement condemning the nuclear test.
The council said it would begin work immediately on a new binding resolution that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said would have teeth in it, and would likely include additional sanctions.
Briefing reporters, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday in pursuit of a unified international response. Her calls Monday included counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Kelly made no prediction about the timing of a new resolution, but said U.S. patience on the issue is not infinite. He said the administration wants to make it clear to North Korea that its defiance of the world community will have consequences, but also that a path to dialogue remains open.
"They have taken some particularly provocative actions in defiance of the international community and we need to make sure there are consequences applied to those actions," said Kelly. "We also want to show them that the path that they are on, this path of defiance, is the wrong path and that there are no rewards for them continuing down this path. We want to get them to make the right choice to give up their nuclear-weapons program and we hope we can get them to that point."
The Chinese-sponsored six-party nuclear talks stalled last year. Pyongyang announced it was quitting the negotiations after the Security Council condemned its long-range missile firing in early April, which North Korea called a satellite launch.
Spokesman Kelly said Pyongyang informed the United States in advance through diplomatic channels of its intention to conduct the nuclear test Monday, just before it occurred.
U.S. officials are awaiting additional seismic and other data before assessing the yield of the device, but they say it did appear to have been more powerful than the country's first nuclear test in October, 2006, which was considered at least a partial failure.