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Bolton: U.S. won't bend to North Korean bullying

Story Highlights

NEW: N. Korea nuclear test "smaller than expected," South Korean paper reports
• Chinese diplomat says "punitive measures" needed after nuclear test
• Report says North Korea may fire nuclear missile
• Bolton says U.S. won't respond to North Korean threats
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- North Korea's reported threat to fire a nuclear missile is an attempt to bully Washington into face-to-face talks with Pyongyang, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Tuesday.

"This is the way North Korea typically negotiates, by threat and intimidation," he said. "It's worked for them before. It's not going to work this time."

The world, meanwhile, was lining up against the reclusive regime of Kim Jong Il, with even longtime ally China saying Monday's reported nuclear test should bring "punitive actions." The U.N. Security Council prepared to further discuss sanctions on Tuesday. (Watch the world call for immediate action -- 1:35)

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, in a dispatch carried by The Associated Press, quoted an unidentified North Korean official as saying, "We hope the situation will be resolved before an unfortunate incident of us firing a nuclear missile comes."

"That depends on how the U.S. will act," the official said.

Bolton said the United States has talked one-on-one with its North Korean counterparts on the sidelines of the stalled six-party talks and will continue to do so if Pyongyang returns to the negotiating table.

"If they want to talk to us, all they have to do is buy a plane ticket to Beijing," Bolton said.

But North Korea has shunned the talks in favor of bilateral negotiations with the United States.

The Bush administration has refused to negotiate with Pyongyang without the input of South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan.

Bolton said the North Korean regime is unwilling to take part in the multilateral negotiations "because they're not getting what they want."

"We want the elimination of their nuclear weapons programs," he said.

Now, North Korea faces the threat of United Nations sanctions which, U.N. diplomats say, are tailored after existing sanctions imposed by the United States.

Japan has tacked on additional sanctions to the U.N. draft resolution, which is still being circulated among U.N. Security Council members.

The draft resolution attempts to target the country's weapons and illicit drug trade to punish Kim's regime and not civilians, Bolton said.

"Our aim in the sanctions we proposed is precisely not to do anything to worsen the terrible condition of the people who have suffered under this regime," Bolton said.(Watch what life is like at the DMZ dividing the two Koreas -- 2:06 Video)

"Our draft resolution, in fact, carves out explicit exemptions for humanitarian supplies. To the extent that we are able to, we will try to keep that flowing to the North Korean people who need it."

North Korea's people often go hungry, with the government unable to provide for basic needs after decades of economic mismanagement under its Communist leadership.

Despite the reported missile threat, the North's missiles are not likely to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and a test firing of an alleged long-range missile failed in July. (Watch what experts think about missile strikes -- 2:11 Video)

Doubts even remained Tuesday that Pyongyang conducted a nuclear test.

That's because Western measurements showed an explosion equivalent to about 500 metric tons of TNT, which a senior U.S. intelligence community official said was unusually small for a nuclear blast.

By comparison, nuclear tests in 1998 by India and Pakistan were about 24 to 50 times as powerful, according to the Federation of American Scientists. (Nuclear nations)

A North Korean diplomat admitted the test was smaller than expected, the South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported Tuesday.

"But the success in a small-scale [test] means a large-scale [test] is also possible," he said in comments posted on the newspaper's Web site. (Was North Korea test dud or deception?)

Any sanctions coming out of the U.N. would need the support of Russia and China, which hold veto power in the Security Council.

While the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman ruled out any military actions, Beijing appeared ready to back some form of sanctions.

China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said the Security Council must give a "firm, constructive, appropriate but prudent response" to North Korea.

"There has to be some punitive actions (against North Korea), but also I think these actions have to be appropriate, so we will discuss with others," he said.

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said in an AP report that "the nuclear test will undoubtedly exert a negative impact on our relations."

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said his country would reconsider its policy of engagement with the North, according to a report from the Reuters news service.

Australia said it would impose various measures on North Korea, including curtailing visas.

And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo may impose sanctions on North Korea even if it turns out the test was a ruse, AP reported.

President Bush on Monday insisted the United States "remains committed to diplomacy" to settle the dispute. (Watch Bush on why North Korea's move poses a threat -- 2:34 Video)

U.S. military units in the region were keeping a low profile, AP reported, with officials cautiously avoiding any comments that might provoke the North.

"We are monitoring the situation," Master Sgt. Terence Peck, a spokesman for the U.S. Forces, Japan, said on Monday. On Tuesday, officials said they had been instructed to refer all questions to the State Department.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.


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People in Pyongyang, North Korea, walk from the statue of former leader Kim Il Sung on Monday.

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