WASHINGTON, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – North Korea had informed the United States that it planned to conduct a nuclear test prior to its underground detonation of an atomic device Tuesday, a US State Department spokeswoman said.
The North Korean government “did inform us at the State Department of their intention to conduct a nuclear test, without citing any specific timing prior to the event," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing Tuesday.
Nuland declined to provide a detailed account of the notification Pyongyang gave Washington about its plans for the test, which was condemned by governments throughout the world Tuesday. She said only that the State Department was informed by North Korea via the “usual channels.”
The two countries do not maintain diplomatic relations, though North Korea reportedly passes messages to the US government at the United Nations in New York City.
Nuland called the nuclear test, which was the third conducted by North Korea in defiance of UN resolutions, “highly regrettable” and said that Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken with his counterparts in Korea, China and Japan.
Kerry had reached out to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov but as of Tuesday afternoon not yet spoken with Moscow’s top diplomat, who is traveling in Africa, Nuland said.
In a statement earlier Tuesday, US President Barack Obama called the nuclear test a “highly provocative act” that “undermines regional stability” and violates Pyongyang’s obligations under several UN Security Council resolutions.
“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.”
Obama spoke by telephone Tuesday morning with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and reassured his counterpart in Seoul that the United States “remains steadfast in its defense commitments to the Republic of Korea, including the extended deterrence offered by the US nuclear umbrella,” the White House said in a statement.
The 15 member UN Security Council, meanwhile, issued a statement condemning the nuclear blast, calling it a “grave violation” of UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from conducting such tests and "a clear threat to international peace and security."
“In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin work immediately on appropriate measures in a Security Council resolution,” the council said in the statement.