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Obama calls North Korea nuke test ’highly provocative’

WASHINGTON – President Obama on Tuesday called North Korea’s latest nuclear test a “highly provocative act” that threatens U.S. security and international peace.

“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community,” Obama said in a statement issued early Tuesday. “The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies.”

North Korea said it successfully detonated a miniaturized nuclear device at a northeastern test site Tuesday. South Korean, U.S. and Japanese seismic monitoring agencies said they detected an earthquake in North Korea with a magnitude between 4.9 and 5.2.

North Korea’s official state media said the test was conducted in a safe manner and is aimed at coping with “outrageous” U.S. hostility that “violently” undermines the North’s peaceful, sovereign right to launch satellites. Last month, North Korea’s National Defense Commission said the United States was its prime target for a nuclear test and long-range rocket launches.

“These provocations do not make North Korea more secure,” Obama said. “Far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.”

The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting this morning on North Korea’s nuclear test. South Korea’s U.N. Mission informed reporters early Tuesday that the closed-door meeting will begin at 9 a.m.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed North Korea’s “continued provocative rhetoric” in a phone call with China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. That followed earlier conversations with Kerry’s counterparts from Japan and South Korea, key U.S. allies in the region.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the three conversations “were remarkably similar” on the importance of implementing the commitments of a January U.N. resolution that toughened sanctions against Pyongyang and warned of “significant action” if it conducted a nuclear test. That resolution was supported by China, North Korea’s only major ally.

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