The UN Security Council has promised to draft punitive measures against North Korea for carrying out a nuclear test, but failed to agree on immediate actions. The organisation said the test, which Pyongyang claims was a hydrogen bomb detonation, is a "clear threat to international peace".
Following an emergency meeting in New York, the 15-member council "strongly condemned" the incident. Experts have questioned whether it was actually a sophisticated H-bomb explosion, citing the nature of the blast which is consistent with the rudimentary atomic bomb detonation.
Uruguay's UN Ambassador, Elbio Rosseli, who is the council's acting president said: "The members of the Security Council... recalled that they have previously expressed their determination to take further significant measures in the event of another nuclear test. In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin to work immediately on such measures in a new Security Council resolution."
The emergency session was called at the request of the US, South Korea and Japan. Diplomats are already thought to have begun working on how to implement new measures.
This would be Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test and if confirmed, it would be the first hydrogen bomb. Major powers have not reached any consensus on whether further harsh sanctions would bring the rogue state to the negotiating table. North Korea has so far responded strongly to any kind of UN-led economic sanctions and refused to back down. The three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and 2013 prompted a spate of UN penalties.
Japan's ambassador to the UN, Motohide Yoshikawa, called for a swift resolution. He said: "The authority and credibility of the Security Council will be put in question if it does not take these measures."
Ahead of the council's meeting, UN chief Ban Ki-moon blasted Pyongyang, saying its actions are "profoundly destabilising" regional security. He called on the Kim Jong-un regime to immediately "cease any further nuclear activities".