A united U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s nuclear test and pledged further action Tuesday, calling Pyongyang’s latest defiant act “a clear threat to international peace and security.”
All 15 council members, including North Korea’s closest ally, China, approved the press statement hours after the latest underground test. The statement called the atomic blast a “grave violation” of three U.N. resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting nuclear or missile tests.
The swift and unanimous response from the U.N.’s most-powerful body set the stage for a fourth round of sanctions against Pyongyang.
The language in the statement, which pledged “significant action” in a new resolution, was stronger than the Security Council’s initial reaction to North Korea’s two previous nuclear tests and its most- recent rocket launch. Diplomats said it reflects the growing anger at Pyongyang’s continuing defiance of the council and the sanctions resolutions.
How tough the new sanctions will be will depend largely on China, North Korea’s main trading partner. China has voted for the three previous sanctions resolutions but has resisted measures that would cut off the country’s economy completely.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said a number of new measures to tighten and expand the existing sanctions regime will be discussed with council members and other concerned countries in the coming days. She added in response to a question that financial sanctions would be “right for appropriate further action.”
Tuesday’s nuclear test followed a familiar North Korean pattern. Pyongyang conducted its first two nuclear-weapons tests weeks after rocket launches in 2006 and 2009, and this third test followed a rocket launch in December that the U.N. and the U.S. called a cover for a banned long-range missile test.
The Security Council noted that last month, in a resolution that strengthened sanctions in response to the December missile test, its members promised to take “significant action” in the event of a new nuclear test.