North Korea has denounced sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in response to its nuclear test last week, saying they were tantamount to a declaration of war.

The statement from a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Pyongyang would not bow to US pressure.

The statement said North Korea has the right to possess nuclear weapons but it did not mention if North Korea would conduct another test.

It said North Korea wanted peace but was 'not afraid of war'.

The UNSC unanimously voted on Saturday to impose sanctions, targeting Pyongyang's weapons and missile programmes as well as luxury goods.

North Korea's response came after the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said that any further nuclear tests by the Asian country would be a provocative act that could only deepen its isolation.

Her remarks follow intelligence reports in Japan and South Korea that Pyongyang could be preparing to carry out a second nuclear test.

Dr Rice was speaking ahead of a visit to Japan, South Korea and China to discuss the implementation of the sanctions against North Korea.

She stressed that countries in the region must act together to prevent North Korea - which has a long history of selling its ballistic missile technology - from nuclear proliferation.

Dr Rice said she wanted to send a signal to Iran that it could suffer if it kept pursuing nuclear weapons.