Clinton: North Korea nuke test 'direct threat' to US

In addition, according to the resolution, United Nations member states' banks can not trade with North Korean banks identified as the financiers of nuclear programs and Pyongyang's missiles program.

Now, he said, "we are coming to nearly this confrontational situation".

First indications of an underground explosion came when seismic monitors detected a 5.3-magnitude "artificial earthquake" near the Punggye-ri nuclear site.

North Korea has offered a chilling demonstration over the past month of its ability to deliver such warheads, using missiles that could strike Japan, South Korea and even US territory. Council members also denounced the test, calling it a threat to worldwide security.

The blast is believed to be the fifth and largest since Pyongyang began pursuing nuclear and ballistic missile programs, drawing condemnation from the global community.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Friday that the test, North Korea's fifth, was the latest act to destabilize relations on the Korean Peninsula.

"The 10-kiloton blast was almost twice the (power of the) fourth nuclear test and slightly less than the Hiroshima bombing, which was measured about 15 kilotons", said Kim Nam-wook of the South's meteorological agency.

It said the test proved North Korea was capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a medium-range ballistic missile, which it last tested on Monday when Mr Obama and other world leaders were gathered in China for a G20 summit.

"Sanctions have already been imposed on nearly everything possible, so the policy is at an impasse", said Tadashi Kimiya, a University of Tokyo professor specialising in Korean issues. "Maybe we shouldn't be so honest when it comes to military strategy", he said.

The development in North Korea comes at the end of a week in which Trump and Clinton clashed repeatedly over national security. "There is no way they could do that test in a safe way, and it could easily start a war".

In March, the Security Council adopted its toughest sanctions against North Korea in two decades in response to a nuclear test in January and a rocket launch.

This week's events pose yet another challenge for Pyongyang's chief ally, China, which has been under pressure to rein in its increasingly aggressive neighbor.

"At the same time, we must strengthen defense cooperation with our allies in the region; South Korea and Japan are critical to our missile defense system, which will protect us against a North Korean missile", she said.

Beijing strongly condemned the test, but has limited room to manoeuvre.

State media reported that a smaller, lighter device was used, but it had greater explosive force than previous tests - perhaps around 6 to 7 kilotons, according to South Korea. Its priority is to avoid the regime's collapse, which would create a crisis on its border and shift the balance of power on the Korean peninsula toward the United States.

The nation is still at least years away from developing a missile that can reach as far as the continental United States, and it's unclear whether they would even be able to launch such an attack on neighboring countries such as South Korea or Japan.

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