The UN Security Council has threatened to impose a new raft of sanctions against North Korea as it strongly condemned Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test, terming it a "threat" to international peace and security.

The 15-member powerful UN body held urgent consultations here yesterday to address the "serious situation" arising from Korea’s atomic test – believed to be its most powerful ever.

Strongly condemning the test, the Council said it is a clear violation and in flagrant disregard of Security Council resolutions and of the non-proliferation regime and "therefore a clear threat to international peace and security continues to exist." 

The Council members said they have previously expressed their determination to take "further significant measures" in the event of another nuclear test by North Korea.

"In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin to work immediately on appropriate measures," they said.

The US and France urged the Council members to push ahead with new sanctions against North Korea, saying its repeated tests show "complete disregard" for international law.

Terming the latest nuclear test as "more than brazen defiance", US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said the Council must send a "clear, united and strong message that the international community will never accept a nuclear North Korea. The Council must take further, decisive action that forces North Korea to change its calculus." 

Power said the Council will take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are "consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions." 

China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi told reporters that "all sides should refrain from mutual provocation and any action that might exacerbate the situation." 

French envoy to the Fran ois Delattre said the latest nuclear test by North Korea is more than a grave provocation.

"North Korea will have to bear the consequences of its acts and provocations," he said, adding that more importantly, new sanctions are "indispensable." 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also strongly condemned the underground nuclear test and said, "This is yet another brazen breach of the resolutions of the Security Council." 

"This unacceptable act endangers peace and security in the region and is another vivid reminder of the urgent need to strengthen the global nuclear test ban regime," he stressed.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo called the tests a frightening, unfortunate and serious breach of the norms adopted by the international community.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Yukiya Amano called it a "deeply troubling and regrettable act".

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra ad Al Hussein also designated two independent human rights experts to support the work of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana.