President Barack Obama on Friday condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test and said the US “does not and never will” accept the country as a nuclear state.
Obama said he consulted by telephone with the leaders of South Korea and Japan after being informed of North Korea’s claim to have conducted a “higher level” nuclear test explosion on Friday.
Obama said the leaders agreed to work with the UN Security Council and the international community to implement existing punitive measures imposed on North Korea for prior instances of unlawful nuclear activity. He said additional “significant” steps, including new sanctions, were being considered.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Obama agreed to cooperate in seeking an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss a possibility of effectively imposing sanctions on North Korea over the nuclear test.
North Korea said its test will allow it to finally build, “at will,” stronger, smaller and lighter nuclear weapons.
It was the country’s fifth atomic test and second in eight months.
Earlier, the Pentagon called North Korea’s nuclear test “yet another flagrant violation” of UN Security Council resolutions as well as a “serious provocation.”
Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook was traveling Friday in Norway with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter. In a statement, Cook said Carter has been briefed on reports of seismic activity near a North Korea nuclear site. Cook said Carter will remain in close contact with America’s South Korean allies as well as other friends and allies in the region.
Cook said a nuclear test would pose “a significant threat to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the stability of the Asia-Pacific region.”
North Korea confirmed Friday it had tested a nuclear warhead designed to be mounted on ballistic missiles.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was deeply concerned about North Korea after the government there announced that it had conducted its fifth nuclear test.
In Geneva for meetings about Syria, Kerry said he spoke with the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea. He said “everybody shares concerns” about the situation on the Korean peninsula right now.
Kerry said the US was still trying to determine precisely what happened. He didn’t refer to Friday’s event as a nuclear test.
He spoke as he started a day of Syria negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Lavrov said he would talk to Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida soon. He said UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea must be respected “and we must send this message very strongly.”
The Security Council in March imposed the toughest sanctions on North Korea in two decades, reflecting growing anger at Pyongyang’s nuclear test and rocket launch earlier this year in defiance of a ban on all nuclear-related activity.