North Korea says it will “never bow” to UN pressure to disarm following its nuclear test on Tuesday, the third in the country’s history.
Speaking after attracting global condemnation for the nuclear test, from countries including the US, the UK and Russia, a North Korean dilpomat told the UN’s Conference on Disarmament that prospects for the country ending its nuclear programme were “gloomy”.
“The US and their followers are sadly mistaken if they miscalculate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would respect the entirely unreasonable resolutions against it,” said Jon Yong Ryong, first secretary of North Korea’s mission in Geneva.
“The DPRK will never bow to any resolutions. If Seoul truly wants peace and security on the Korean peninsula, it should urge the US first to terminate its hostile policy towards DPRK on an impartial basis.”
In a move likely to anger North Korea’s Chinese ally, as well as attract criticism from the international community, the North Korean government is reported to have exploded a nuclear device at 11.57am local time (2.57am GMT).
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is reported to have summoned the North Korean ambassador to China in order to protest sternly against the nuclear test, the ministry said on its website.
Yang said China was “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to the test and urged North Korea to “stop any rhetoric or acts that could worsen situations and return to the right course of dialogue and consultation as soon as possible.”
Attention was drawn to North Korea after the US Geological Survey reported that a seismic event had taken place. Korea Central News Agency, the North Korean state news agency, then confirmed that the explosion had come from the testing of a nuclear device.
From the size of the seismic event it is estimated that the nuclear explosion was larger than North Korea’s previous two tests, at between six and seven kilotonnes – making the explosion around a third of the size of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
KCNA said: “It was confirmed that the nuclear test that was carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturised and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment.”
North Korea has previously conducted nuclear tests in 2009 and 2006.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned North Korea’s nuclear test, saying it was “deplorable” that Pyongyang had defied international appeals to refrain from such provocative acts.
“The secretary general condemns the underground nuclear weapon test conducted by (North Korea) today,” Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement. “It is a clear and grave violation of the relevant security council resolutions.”
Read more: John Sparks on North Korea's propaganda threat to blow up New York
The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting at 2pm GMT to discuss the incident.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: “This nuclear test is a further blatant challenge to the global non-proliferation regime and an outright violation of the (North Korea’s) international obligations not to produce or test nuclear weapons.
“We once again urge (North Korea) to abandon its nuclear weapons programme, including its uranium enrichment programme, in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague “strongly” condemned the nuclear test, and said Britain would press for a robust response to the test by the United Nations Security Council.
US President Barack Obama said the incident was a “highly provocative act” and called the North Korean nuclear programme a threat to US and international stability.
“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies,” the president said in a statement.
“We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our six-party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action.”
South Korea condemned the attack and said its army was on high alert for an additional nuclear tests or missile action. Chun Yung-woo, national security advisor to South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak, said: “It is a direct challenge to the international community and an unforgivable threat to peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and north east Asia.”
French President Francois Hollande said: “France demands again that North Korea conform without delay to its international obligations and begin a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear and ballistic programme.”
Russia and Japan also condemned the action, citing North Korea’s missile launch in December alongside it, and saying the actions were violations of UN Security Council resolutions.