"The secretary stressed the importance of a strong, unified approach to this threat to international peace and security," Kelly said.
Such broad language leaves unsaid at least two of the main worries about North Korea: Would it use a nuclear bomb to attack a neighbor or the United States? And might it continue an established pattern of selling nuclear wherewithal and missiles to foreign buyers?
Launching a nuclear attack would be an act of likely suicide by North Korea, given overwhelming U.S. military firepower and U.S. defense commitments to Japan and South Korea.
Graham Allison, an assistant secretary of defense in the first Clinton administration and now director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, said Monday that the latest North Korean nuclear test should alert people to the fact that the international community regularly underestimates North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's willingness to do the unexpected.
"Could this guy believe he could sell a nuclear bomb to Osama bin Laden?" Allison asked in a phone interview. "Why not?" It would be easier, he said, than helping Syria construct a nuclear reactor, which the North Koreans are accused of having already done.
EDITOR'S NOTEóRobert Burns has covered national security affairs for The Associated Press since 1990.