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UN Security Council condemns North Korean atomic test

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously condemned a nuclear test by North Korea, describing it as "a clear violation" of a previous resolution. Meanwhile, Pyongyang fired more short-range missiles.

Symbolic photo of UN Security Council meeting superimposed with North Korean flag

The UN Security Council held an urgent meeting after the blast

At an emergency meeting in New York, the UN Security Council responded strongly to the latest North Korean nuclear test, saying it violated international law, and indicating that it might impose sanctions.

Ignoring the international outrage, Pyongyang continued what many observers consider to be posturing when it fired two short-range missiles off its east coast Tuesday.

Saber rattling in the North?

The joint chiefs of staff of the South Korean military did not confirm the launches, which were reported by South Korea's Yonhap news agency to be a surface-to-air missile and an anti-ship missile.

Yonhap quoted an official as saying, "the North is continuing its saber-rattling."

The move merely increased international condemnation. In response to the nuclear test on Monday, the UN Security Council met in a special session for just under an hour before issuing a joint response condemning the test and saying it would "start work immediately on a Security Council resolution on this matter."

Ban Ki Moon speaking in Copenhagen

UN's Ban Ki Moon says he was "deeply disturbed" by the tests

Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters the test was "very serious and needs to have a strong response," an opinion shared by the US ambassador Susan Rice. China said it "resolutely opposed" the test, and demanded that North Korea stick to its disarmament commitments.

In Copenhagen, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said he was "deeply disturbed" by the development.

"If confirmed, this constitutes a clear violation of Security Council resolution 1718 of 2006, which demanded that North Korea does not conduct a nuclear test," Ban said.

Resolution 1718 was issued in October 2006 in response to Pyongyang's first nuclear test.

Size of blast

Defense officials in Russia say the test involved an explosion of up to 20 kilotons, a similar size to the atomic bomb explosions in Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the close of World War II. That would make the blast 20 times larger than Pyongyang's 2006 test.

However, the US and Austria-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Oranization say the blast was probably smaller, although their analysis is ongoing.

In the immediate wake of North Korea's latest test, EU foreign policy coordinator Javier Solana condemned the move.

"These irresponsible acts by North Korea warrant a firm response by the international community. The European Union will be in contact with its partners to discuss appropriate measures," Solana said in a statement on Monday.

Bomb blast at Hiroshima

Japan's atomic history gives it a unique perspective

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, had also said he was "very much disturbed" by North Korea's announcement.

Asian reaction

Reactions to the test in Asia were also swift. In South Korea, President Lee Myung-bak has called an emergency meeting of the country's security council, and in Japan officials have set up a task force in the crisis management center of Prime Minister Taro Aso's office.

"As it is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, Japan condemns and protests it strongly," said Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone. "We, as the only nation to have had a nuclear bomb used against us, feel the need to take stern action."

Despite the international outrage, the North said in an official statement that it would continue tests. Moreover, a senior official at Pyongyang's embassy in Moscow told the Itar-Tass news agency on Monday that the country would continue to carry out nuclear tests until western nations, led by the US, bring an end to policies of "intimidation."

jen/dpa/AP/Reuters

Editor: Chuck Penfold

DW.DE