North Korea ‘will be punished’ if nuclear test goes ahead

North Korea will be punished if it carries out its threat to conduct a nuclear test, John Kerry has warned.

The new US Secretary of State John Kerry and his South Korean counterpart have discussed how to respond, amid signs that such a test is coming. South Korea’s president also speculated that Pyongyang may detonate multiple atomic devices simultaneously.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution last month condemning a North Korean long-range rocket launch that the UN and others call a disguised test of banned missile technology.

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It means Pyongyang is subject to new sanctions if it detonates its third nuclear device since 2006.

North Korea announced last month that it will conduct a nuclear test to protest against the toughened sanctions over its December launch.

During a telephone conversation between Mr Kerry and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, “there was agreement that ... if [North Korea] continues its provocative behaviour and takes further steps, that there must be further consequences,” a State Department spokeswoman said.