UN Security Council members have yet to agree on a new draft of a US resolution calling for sanctions on North Korea over its claimed nuclear test.
Mr Bolton said a swift response to North Korea was needed
The US had wanted a vote on the draft by Friday but diplomatic sources told the BBC China and Russia opposed this.
The draft targets the North's missile and nuclear programmes under the UN's Chapter Seven - which makes sanctions mandatory and may allow using force.
China and Russia are reportedly worried about how sanctions may be enforced.
During talks on Thursday, they asked for more time to consider the US proposals.
Western diplomats believe China's support for the draft resolution is essential if tough action is to be taken against North Korea, says the BBC's UN correspondent, Laura Trevelyan.
North Korea's underground test reportedly took place at 1036 (0136 GMT) on Monday in Gilju in north-east Hamgyong province.
US SANCTIONS PROPOSAL
Halting trade in material that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction
Inspections of cargo going in and out of North Korea
The ending of financial transactions used to support nuclear proliferation
A ban on the import of luxury goods
Russia is the only country to have confirmed that it was a nuclear explosion, amid speculation the test was not wholly successful.
South Korea said on Thursday that it had not detected any abnormal radioactivity levels on its soil after its northern neighbour's alleged nuclear test.
On Wednesday, Japan imposed its fresh sanctions on North Korea, including banning all imports from the country. The sanctions are expected to be approved by the Japanese cabinet on Friday.
Pyongyang responded by saying it will take "strong countermeasures" against Japan if the sanctions are enforced.
N KOREA NUCLEAR PROGRAMME
Believed to have 'handful' of nuclear weapons
But not thought to have any small enough to put in a missile
Could try dropping from plane, though world watching closely
There is agreement in the UN Security Council that North Korea should face punitive measures, but countries are divided over how tough these should be.
The US wants the sanctions - which would also target luxury goods - to be brought under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter.
This means they would be mandatory and ultimately enforceable by military means.
The draft resolution also includes a clause allowing nations to ban the entry or transit of people believed to support Pyongyang's weapons programme, reports say.
But China, Russia and South Korea have expressed varying degrees of opposition.
China is also reported to be unhappy about authorising inspections of cargo vessels moving in and out of North Korea in order to find weapons-related material.