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United Nations, World Leaders Condemn North Korea’s High-Level Nuclear Test

February 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JEFFREY BROWN: Another defiant act by North Korea today. The nation carried out its third nuclear test, triggering new fears and a global outcry.

The announcement blared forth on North Korean state television.

WOMAN: The main purpose of this nuclear test is to show the resentment of our people and army of the United States’ hostile actions that are no better than robbery. Our nuclear test is a fair self-defensive action which doesn’t contravene any international law.

JEFFREY BROWN: The underground blast took place at a remote location in the northeastern part of the country. It was the communist regime’s third nuclear test since 2006. Seismic readings in South Korea suggested this device was smaller than those used earlier, but it packed more explosive punch.

The test came just weeks after a U.N. Security Council vote imposing additional sanctions against North Korea. That U.N. action followed North Korea’s launch of a satellite in December. The U.S. and others had warned that the rocket could also be used to carry nuclear weapons. Today’s nuclear test sent the U.N. Security Council back into emergency meetings to discuss yet more sanctions.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice:

U.S. AMBASSADOR SUSAN RICE, United Nations: The actions of North Korea are a threat to regional peace and security, international peace and security. And they are not acceptable. They will not be tolerated. And they will be met with North Korea’s increasing isolation and pressure under United Nations sanctions.

JEFFREY BROWN: In Washington, a State Department official confirmed that Pyongyang had informed the U.S. of its intention to test a nuclear device, but had given no date.

Other nations joined in a wave of condemnation, including the Russian foreign minister, who was in South Africa.

SERGEI LAVROV, Russian Foreign Minister: From what we have heard today, Pyongyang violated its commitment and deserves condemnation because it ignored the norms of international laws.

JEFFREY BROWN: Even China, the North’s lone major ally, voiced its — quote — “staunch opposition.” It urged North Korea to return to six-party talks on its nuclear program, stalled since 2008. But Pyongyang has continued its nuclear work, despite international pressure.

And with today’s test, the country’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, directly challenged several other new leaders in neighboring nations, including South Korea, Japan and China.

Back in Washington, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that those countries and the U.S. will have to contend with — quote — “rogue states” for some time.

DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA, United States: You just saw what North Korea has done in these last few weeks, the missile test and now a nuclear test. They represent a serious threat to the United States of America. We have got to be prepared to deal with that.

JEFFREY BROWN: North Korea’s own public statement insisted today’s test was only a first response and said there would be additional actions to come, but gave no specifics.