By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said a nuclear test by North Korea was a "highly provocative act" that hurt regional stability, calling Pyongyang's nuclear program a threat to the United States, its allies, and to international security.
"The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies," Obama said in a statement.
North Korea's third-ever nuclear test came less than 24 hours before Obama was slated to give his annual State of the Union address, a televised speech viewed by millions of Americans that is now almost certain to refer to North Korea's actions.
"This is a highly provocative act," Obama said, noting the test violated North Korea's obligations under United Nations and other international agreements.
North Korea is banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions from developing nuclear and missile technology. The tests drew condemnation from around the world.
The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on North Korea's apparent nuclear test at 9:00 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) on Tuesday where the United States, South Korea and others could begin the lengthy process of pressing for more sanctions on Pyongyang.
"We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action," Obama said.
The six-party talks between China, the United States, North and South Korea, Japan, and Russia are aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by John Stonestreet)
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This Dec. 24, 2012 satellite image provided by GeoEye shows North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility. This and other recent satellite photos show North Korea could be almost ready to carry out its threat to conduct a nuclear test, a U.S. research institute said Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. The images of the Punggye-ri site where nuclear tests were conducted in 2006 and 2009 reveal that over the past month roads have been kept clear of snow and that North Koreans may be sealing the tunnel into a mountainside where a nuclear device would be detonated. But it remains difficult to discern North Korea's true intentions as a test would be conducted underground. The analysis was provided to The Associated Press by 38 North, the website of U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image)
This Dec. 24, 2012 satellite image provided by GeoEye shows North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image)
This Jan. 23. 2013 satellite image provided by GeoEye shows North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image)
This Jan. 4, 2013 satellite image provided by GeoEye shows North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility. (AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image)