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North Korea Conducted Nuclear Test

SEOUL, South Korea — The United Nations swiftly condemned North Korea for its test of a powerful nuclear bomb, and South Korean announced Tuesday it would join a U.S.-led initiative to intercept ships suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction.

The U.N. Security Council said the test was a "clear violation" of a 2006 resolution banning North Korea from conducting nuclear development, and that it would start work immediately on a new resolution that could result in even stronger measures.

Russian officials said the nuclear bomb that the North detonated underground Monday was comparable to those that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, raising fears that the communist country could spread such technology abroad.

In a further sign of the North's mounting standoff with the world, a report said the country was likely preparing to fire short-range missiles Tuesday off its western coast.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing a defense source it did not identify, said North Korea banned ships from waters off its western coast and would probably fire short-range missiles as early as Tuesday.

A Defense Ministry spokesman in Seoul said he was aware of the report though could not confirm it. He added that the North has routinely issued such shipping bans at this time of year due to military exercises.

South Korean spy chief Won Sei-hoon told lawmakers Tuesday that North Korea fired a ground-to-ship missile from its eastern coast Monday and there is a possibility of another missile launch, according to the office of opposition lawmaker Park Young-sun, who attended the closed-door session.

President Barack Obama told South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that the United States will protect his country from any possible North Korean aggression, Lee's spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said after the two leaders spoke by telephone Tuesday.


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