Obama calls North Korea nuke test 'highly provocative'

South Korean, US and Japanese seismic monitoring agencies said they each detected an earthquake in North Korea with a magnitude between 4.9 and 5.2.
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North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test Tuesday, taking an important step toward building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile that could reach United States.

The White House is calling North Korea's latest nuclear test a "highly provocative act" that threatens U.S. security and international peace.

In a statement issued early Tuesday, President Barack Obama promises to "continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies." He also urges "swift and credible action by the international community."

North Korea says it successfully detonated a miniaturized nuclear device at a northeastern test site Tuesday, defying U.N. Security Council orders to shut down atomic activity or face more sanctions and international isolation.

North Korea says its nuclear test Tuesday was its "first response" to American threats and warns it will continue with unspecified "second and third measures of greater intensity" if the United States maintains its "hostility." President Obama calls the test a "highly provocative act."

Obama says such efforts "do not make North Korea more secure." Instead, he says, North Korea has "increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction."

The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting following the test.

The European Union says the test poses a threat to regional and international peace. The body also says the move defies UN Security Council resolutions, which was echoed by other nations.

"We very strongly believe that the much better option that the North Korea has is to engage with international communities, so instead of choosing a path of isolation and provocation, rather to restrain its actions and engage with international community," said Maja Kocijancic, EU spokesperson.

North Korea said that its widely condemned nuclear test was merely its first response to what it called "U.S. threats," warning that it would continue with unspecified acts of quote "greater intensity" if the United States maintained its so-called hostility. North Korea also said that its nuclear test was aimed at coping with ferocious US hostility that undermined its peaceful, sovereign right to launch satellites.

North Korea had announced it would conduct another nuclear test after fresh sanctions were levied against the country for a rocket launch.

The international community, meantime, is condemning North Korea's third nuclear test.

"So now it is time to demonstrate that if North Korea continues in this way it will face increasing isolation, and increasing pressure from all of the members of the security council. I hope that will be clear at the meeting that will be held in New York today," said William Hague, UK foreign secretary.

NATO's governing body is harshly criticizing North Korea's recent nuclear test, calling it "irresponsible" and a flagrant violation of U.N. Security council actions.

"We will see it as deeply disturbing. We're going to work with our colleagues - Japan and South Korea in particular. I'll be speaking to the Foreign Ministers of both of those countries later this evening," said Bob Carr, Australian foreign minister.

Meanwhile in South Korea, the government increased its military readiness and the country's current president briefed the country's president-elect on the matter.

The Associated Press and NBC contributed to this report.