People watch a television news report, showing file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at a railway station in Seoul on September 9, 2016. (AFP photo)
The United States may impose unilateral sanctions on North Korea over its recent nuclear test, an American special envoy to the isolated state says.
On Friday, North Korea said it had conducted a successful "nuclear warhead explosion" test, which marked the country’s fifth and biggest nuclear test so far.
"Our nuclear scientists staged a nuclear explosion test on a newly developed nuclear warhead at the country's northern nuclear test site," said a TV announcer.
The United Nations Security Council said Friday that it would begin to prepare a new round of sanctions against North Korea.
On Sunday, US special envoy Sung Kim said that the US, South Korea and Japan will launch their own sanctions against the North.
"In addition to action in the Security Council, both the US and Japan, together with the Republic of Korea, will be looking at unilateral measures, as well as bilateral measures, as well as possible trilateral cooperation," Kim told reporters in Tokyo after meeting Japanese foreign ministry officials.
He said the specific details of the US unilateral sanctions had yet to be decided, but added that both the US and Japan were looking at "a full range of possibilities, in terms of additional unilateral sanctions that can be implemented."
"We will be working very closely in the Security Council and beyond to come up with the strongest possible measure against North Korea's latest actions," Kim added.
A ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) is seen at an unknown location. (Reuters file photo)
US sanctions push 'laughable'
A defiant Pyongyang dismissed the new push for sanctions as “laughable” and vowed to continue to bolster its nuclear capabilities.
"The group of [President Barack] Obama's running around and talking about meaningless sanctions until today is highly laughable, when their 'strategic patience' policy is completely worn out and they are close to packing up to move out," a foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday as quoted by the official KNCA news agency.
"As we've made clear, measures to strengthen the national nuclear power in quality and quantity will continue to protect our dignity and right to live from augmented threats of nuclear war from the United States," the official added.
The spokesperson also urged the US to recognize North Korea as a "legitimate nuclear weapons state."
North Korea has pledged to develop a robust nuclear arsenal to protect itself from the US military, which occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.
Pyongyang is discontent with joint military drills held in the Korean Peninsula by the South and the US as well as their plan to deploy the THAAD missile system in the region.
The country has been hit by five sets of UN sanctions since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006.

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