North Korea's claim to have carried out a successful hydrogen bomb test quickly played its way Wednesday into the 2016 U.S. presidential contest.
Several Republican contenders blamed the "feckless" and "failed" foreign policy of Democratic President Barack Obama and the leading Democratic presidential candidate, his first-term secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, for allowing Pyongyang to reportedly carry out its fourth nuclear test in the last decade.
One of the leading Republican contenders, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, said, "Our enemies around the world are taking advantage of Obama's weakness."
He accused Obama of sitting "idly by," while a "lunatic leader" in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, imperils international peace.
Another Republican candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, said the test "underscores the gravity of the threats we are facing right now and also the sheer folly of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy."
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two U.S. presidents, said, the "North Korean nuke test shows danger of continuing feckless Obama-Clinton foreign policy."
Billionaire real estate titan Donald Trump, currently leading the Republican presidential field in U.S. political surveys, said China "should solve" the problem of North Korean nuclear tests.
"And if they don't solve the problem," Trump said, "we should make trade very difficult for China. ... North Korea is totally under their control. Without China, they wouldn't eat," said Trump, who called Kim a “madman.”
Even Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders called on the U.S. to press China into forcing North Korea to abide by international norms.
Clinton called the North Korean nuclear test a "provocative and dangerous act," which the U.S. should meet with new sanctions against the reclusive Pyongyang government and strengthened missile defenses.
In a statement, Clinton said, "North Korea must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan."
State-by-state Republican and Democratic political contests start next month in the U.S. to pick the parties' presidential nominees, with the national election coming in November. The winner will replace Obama as he leaves office next January.