The UN Security Council was expected to hold an emergency meeting to weigh how to respond to Democratic People Republic of Korea's first-ever nuclear weapons test in brazen defiance of a UN resolution.
Hours after the state's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced a successful underground nuclear test, the White House Monday said that if confirmed the move would be a "provocative act" and called for immediate action by the UN Security Council.
Only Friday, the 15-member Council unanimously adopted a non-binding statement calling on Pyongyang not to go ahead with the test and warned of unspecified consequences if it did so.
A UN spokesmen said no meeting had been immediately scheduled but White House spokesman Tony Snow signaled a session was in the works. "We would expect the Security Council to meet (Monday)," he told reporters in Washington.
During negotiations over the council statement adopted Friday, Japan, which chairs the council for October, and the United States had pushed for inclusion of a threat to resort to mandatory sanctions, including an arms embargo and other trade and financial sanctions under Chapter Seven of the UN charter.
But in the face of opposition from China and Russia, the explicit mention of sanctions was removed although the text said a test "would represent a clear threat to international peace and security," which in UN parlance is often a trigger for mandatory sanctions under Chapter Seven.
Chapter Seven authorizes wide-ranging sanctions or even as a last resort military action to ensure compliance with council resolutions.
Friday's statement also urged DPRK to return immediately to six-nation talks on its nuclear program and keep to a September 2005 pledge to abandon it in exchange for energy and security benefits.
The North has since November boycotted the talks with China, Japan, RoK, Russia and the United States in response to US financial sanctions.
Last week, US Ambassador John Bolton urged the council to respond to a test with punitive action going beyond the missile-related sanctions imposed on the North in a Security Council resolution passed in July.
KCNA said the test "will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it."
Last week, in announcing plans to test a nuclear device, Pyongyang cited the threat of sanctions and nuclear war from the United States
It said the nuclear weapons were needed for self-defence.
North Korea Conducts First Nuclear Test