BY Brian Kates
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER North Korea launched tests Tuesday of two short-range missiles, a day after its firing a nuclear bomb underground in a saber-rattling test of the Obama administration.
The two missiles—one ground-to-air, the other ground-to-ship—with a range of about 80 miles were test-fired from an east coast launch pad, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed government official.
North Korea will "pay a price" if it continues to carry out nuclear weapon and missile tests in violation of international law, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after the latest launches.
Rice said the United States and the international community have no intention of allowing North Korea either to have its own nuclear weapons program or export nuclear materials to other nations or rogue states.
She called Pyongyang's underground nuclear test and test launches of short-range missiles "provocative, destabilizing and a threat."
"If you want to continue to test and provoke the international community, they're going to find they'll pay a price because the international community is clear: it's not acceptable," Rice said on CNN television.
The latest tests appears to have been the equivalent of about four kilotons of TNT, only a fraction of the size of Monday's blast, which Russian experts estimated at 20 kilotons, putting it in the same power zone as the 1945 Hiroshima bomb.
In Beijing, the defense chiefs of South Korea and China were holding a security meeting Tuesday, South Korean officials said.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee and China's Gen. Liang Guanglie were expected to discuss ways to respond to the nuclear test, Cho Baek-sang, international policy director at the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul, was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
President Obama called Monday's test firing "a grave thereat" and said "the U.S. and the international community must take action in response.
The U.N. Security Council condemned the test-firing as a "clear violation" of a 2006 resolution banning the regime from developing its nuclear program.
France called for new sanctions, and even China, a permanent member of the Security Council and the North's sole main ally, was strongly critical.
"The Chinese government expresses its resolute opposition to this," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.
Rice suggested today that China's growing concern about North Korea's nuclear tests presents the international community with a stronger diplomatic card to play against the Pyongyang regime.
"China has an interest in what transpires for North Korea," said Rice, who represents the United States at the United Nations. "They share a border. They want to see a North Korea that's stable. On that, we are in full agreement."
South Korean spy chief Won Sei-hoon had informed lawmakers earlier Tuesday that a missile test was likely, according to the office of Park Young-sun, a legislator who attended the closed-door briefing.
Yonhap reported that North Korea was preparing to launch a third missile from a west coast site, again citing an unnamed official.
South Korea, meanwhile, announced it would join a network of more than 90 nations that intercept ships suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction—a move North Korea warned would constitute an act of war.
North Korea had threatened in recent weeks to carry out a nuclear test and fire long-range missiles unless the Security Council apologized for condemning Pyongyang's April 5 launch of a rocket the U.S., Japan and other nations called a test of its long-range missile technology.
The North has said it put a satellite into orbit as part of its peaceful space development program.
North Korea said today that its army and people were ready to defeat any American invasion. "The current U.S. administration is following in the footsteps of the previous Bush administration's reckless policy of militarily stifling North Korea," the North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in commentary carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.