President Bush said Saturday that the U.N. Security Council had sent a "swift and tough" message to North Korea that its claimed test detonation of a nuclear bomb was unacceptable to the world.

Bush spoke shortly after the council unanimously approved a resolution penalizing the reclusive communist nation for the nuclear test.

"This action by the United Nations, which was swift and tough, says that we are united in our determination to see to it that the Korean Peninsula is nuclear-weapons free," the president told reporters in brief remarks from the White House's South Lawn. He then left for the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland.

He emphasized that North Korea still had a chance for "a better way forward" and promised assistance to the impoverished country from the United States and others if it verifiably ends its nuclear weapons program.

"The message today, however, says to the leader of North Korea that the world is united in our opposition to his nuclear weapons plans," Bush said.

The president took no questions. He never referred by name to Kim Jong Il, whose country Bush had branded a member of an "axis of evil."