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The UN Security Council has opened emergency talks on North Korea's nuclear test, as world powers made calls for swift action against Pyongyang.

The 15-nation council passed a resolution last month threatening "significant action" against North Korea in the event of a new nuclear test or missile launch.

The meeting comes after North Korea confirmed on Tuesday that it carried out a third nuclear test. Monitoring agencies had earlier reported an "unusual seismic event".

"A third nuclear test has been successfully staged," the North's state-run Korean Central News agency said.

"The nuclear test was conducted as part of measures to protect our national security and sovereignty against the reckless hostility of the United States that violated our republic's right for a peaceful satellite launch."

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