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The United Nations Security Council on Sunday strongly condemned North Korea's latest rocket launch and promised to take punitive steps, Reuters reported.

North Korea had earlier on Sunday defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket, reported about two hours after an eight-day launch window opened.

"The members of the Security Council strongly condemned this launch," Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno, president of the council this month, told reporters, according to Reuters.

He said the launch was "a serious violation" and added that the 15-nation council "restated their intent to develop significant measures in a new Security Council resolution in response to the nuclear test" in January, as well as Sunday's rocket launch.

He said they would work "expeditiously."

In early January, North Korea conducted a nuclear test and claimed it launched a hydrogen bomb, a fact which the United States originally disputed but later said a further assessment showed Pyongyang may have indeed tested a hydrogen bomb.

Standing alongside her Japanese and South Korean counterparts on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters, "We will ensure that the Security Council imposes serious consequences. North Korea latest transgressions require our response to be even firmer."

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006. It has conducted three more atomic tests since then, including the one last month, noted Reuters.

The United States and China began discussing a resolution to expand the existing sanctions after Pyongyang's atom bomb test on January 6. Power said she hoped the council would have a draft resolution to vote on "as quickly as possible."

"It is urgent and overdue," she was quoted as having said.

"We are hopeful that China, like all council members, will see the grave threat to regional, international peace and security, see the importance of adopting tough, unprecedented measures, breaking new ground," Power added.

Following the January test, the House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously to pass legislation that would broaden sanctions over North Korea's nuclear program.