President Bush has labeled any nuclear test by North Korea as an "unacceptable" threat to global peace and security. The United States is still trying to confirm whether North Korea actually exploded a nuclear device. But the president says the mere threat of doing so is a "provocative act" that deserves a quick and harsh response.
"Such a claim constitutes a threat to international peace security," President Bush said Monday. "The United States condemns this provocative act."
Members of the United Nations Security Council are meeting to discuss sanctions proposed by the United States. Those could include a trade ban on military and luxury items, the power to inspect all cargo entering or leaving the country, and freezing assets connected with North Korea's weapons programs.
"It just complicates the entire world situation," Dave McIntyre the Director of the Integrative Center for Homeland Security at Texas A&M said. "It's not a happy development not just because it's a threat, but because it makes the world less safe and makes countries less likely to cooperate."
McIntyre says stopping North Korea will not be an easy task. "What is likely to happen is that they'll probably use this to leverage a very poor position in the world to try to gain resources to keep the regime alive, but unfortunately we can't discount in the past they made a foolish decision and they could make another one," McIntyre said.
But North Korea isn't just admitting the nuclear test, it's boasting about it calling the detonation a "great leap forward."
"I am very much proud of our scientists and researchers have conducted such a successful nuclear underground test," Pak Gil Yon, North Korean Ambassador to the UN said.
Now the task is to stop the country from moving forward. Security Council members have condemned North Korea and demanded that it return to the six-party talks on its weapons program. "The big worry is not that they would strike the United States directly but they would share technology or material with someone else that has less scruples than North Korea's," McIntyre said.
Scientists are struggling to assess the North Korean blast. A top international monitor says it will be days before the world knows for sure whether shock waves from North Korea came from a nuclear test.