The international community must meet the latest provocations from North Korea firmly or it will only give Pyongyang license to flout UN Security Council resolutions, the US said Friday., DPA reported
Newly imposed UN sanctions were aimed directly at the people in North Korea "who are taking the country in the wrong direction," she added.
The isolated country - the last Stalinist state on earth - upped the rhetoric again this week with provocative statements targeting South Korea and the US. It threatened the United States with a pre-emptive nuclear strike and said as of Monday the armistice agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War would be scrapped.
Nuland commented on the situation during a briefing one day after the UN Security Council imposed the additional sanctions in reaction to the country's third nuclear test carried out on February 12. North Korea became a nuclear power in 2006.
She said international sanctions had been ratcheted up to an unprecedented level in response to North Korea's "bad choices" and these moves had been made with the support of China.
Beijing shares Washington's concern about Pyongyang's choices, Nuland said, adding that UN sanctions couldn't have been broadened without Chinese cooperation.
Nuland said North Korea's actions would not improve conditions for its people or end the isolation.
"They're just going to increase tensions, and it's extremely regrettable, obviously," she said.
The US also is discussing North Korea's rhetoric in Seoul with South Korean officials, who were pleased with the strong statements from the US and its commitment to defence.
The new categories of pressure, such as making it more difficult for elite members of North Korean society to purchase luxury goods and hampering anyone involved in ballistic missile technology.
The US will continue to be open to change, Nuland said, "but we're also going to continue to increase the pressure if they don't make the right choice," she said.
She declined to say whether the US had increased its own military readiness.