North Korea conducts ‘biggest atomic test yet’ as Pyongyang hails ‘nuclear warhead explosion’

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North Korea says it now has the power to mount a nuclear warhead on ballistic missiles that could be aimed at its enemies after conducting its biggest nuclear test yet, an explosion compared to the Hiroshima blast.

The test, the country’s fifth, was condemned by South Korea as “maniacal recklessness” and prompted the US to warn of “serious consequences.”

“Scientists (from)… the DPRK carried out a nuclear explosion test for the judgment of the power of a nuclear warhead newly studied and manufactured by them at the northern nuclear test ground,” a TV announcer said, using the North’s official name.

The test will also enable the North to produce “as many as it wants (of) a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power”, she said.

The North did not say exactly where the test, which coincided with the 68th anniversary of the government’s founding, took place. But the announcement came hours after Seoul said Pyongyang had staged another atomic test in its Punggye-ri nuclear test site near the border with China.

The latest test, with an estimated yield of 10 kilotons, is the largest-ever staged by Pyongyang, Seoul’s military said. The North’s third nuclear test, staged in February 2013, was previously considered the most powerful to date, with a yield of six to nine kilotons.

“The 10-kiloton blast was nearly twice the fourth nuclear test and slightly less than the Hiroshima bombing, which was measured about 15 kilotons,” said Kim Nam-Wook from the South’s meteorological agency said.

The test drew immediate international condemnation.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in Laos after a summit of Asian leaders ended there on Thursday, said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was showing “maniacal recklessness” in completely ignoring the world’s call to abandon his pursuit of nuclear weapons.

US President Barack Obama said any provocative actions by North Korea would have “serious consequences” .

Obama had been briefed on board Air Force One by National Security Adviser Susan Rice about reported seismic activity near North Korea’s nuclear test site earlier on Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Obama reiterated the unbreakable U.S. commitment to the security of its allies in Asia and around the world, Earnest said.

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AP has collected some reaction on the streets of Pyongyang and Seoul:

Residents offered opposite views of North Korea’s latest nuclear test.

Rim Jong Su, the 42-year-old Pyongyang resident, said, “Now, I am full of confidence that if the enemies make any little provocations we will make a counter attack and we will surely win.”

Across the border, Jeong Jong-kook said that South Koreans are nervous about North Korea’s nuclear experiment.

He says: “Nuclear weapons must be prohibited in order to pursue stability and peace in East Asia.”

Another resident of Seoul, Kim Moon-kyeong, says “North Korea’s nuclear provocation is such a silly act. Everyone is against North Korea’s nuclear threat. As a South Korean citizen, I deplore this.”

China, Pyongyang’s only major ally, has said it will lodge a diplomatic protest with North Korea’s embassy over the nuclear test. 

State news agency Xinhua released a commentary on the explosion on Friday, saying North Korea had “dealt yet another heavy blow to the foundation of regional security, its own security included”.

China had earlier said it was “strongly opposed” to the test. 

A handy video explainer of nuclear weapons around the world

 

The head of the UN atomic watchdog has given a statement on the test:

“This is in clear violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community. It is a deeply troubling and regrettable act,” Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement.

North Korea says capable of mounting nuclear weapon on ballistic missile, in statement confirming fifth test. pic.twitter.com/dvZuIz9A1L

Jeffrey Lewis, of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, says the highest estimates of seismic magnitude suggested this was the most powerful nuclear test conducted by North Korea so far.

He told Reuters the seismic magnitude and surface level indicated a blast with a 20- to 30-kilotonne yield. Such a yield would make this test larger than the nuclear bomb dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War Two and potentially bigger than that dropped on Nagasaki soon after.

“That’s the largest DPRK test to date, 20-30kt, at least. Not a happy day. The important thing is that five tests in, they now have a lot of nuclear test experience. They aren’t a backwards state any more.”

The US, France and China have all been reacting to the latest test. 

Warning of “serious consequences”, Barack Obama called the leaders of South Korea and Japan to consult after the nuclear test, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Friday.

“The president indicated he would continue to consult our allies and partners in the days ahead to ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences.”

The French presidency said urged the UN Security Council to address the latest “violation of its resolutions”.

“France vigorously condemns the new nuclear test that was conducted last night by North Korea and calls the United Nations’ security council to take up this violation of its resolutions.” 

And China’s Foreign Ministry said oit was resolutely opposed to North Korea’s latest nuclear test and strongly urged North Korea to stop taking any actions that will worsen the situation.

China will stick to its aim of denuclearising the Korean peninsula and uphold the six-party talks process to resolve the issue, the ministry added in a short statement. 

 

China, North Korea’s main diplomatic supporter, has issued its first response to the nuclear test.

In a commentary, China’s official Xinhua news agency said all parties in the international community should exercise restraint following North Korea’s latest nuclear test as it is in nobody’s interest for there to be chaos or war on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s nuclear test is “not wise”, but South Korea’s decision to deploy an advanced US anti-missile system has also seriously damaged regional strategic balance, Xinhua said. 

North Korea’s state TV says the North is now capable of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets. It said no leakage of nuclear material had occurred in the test and that there was no environmental impact.

A look at that “>NorthKorea state TV broadcast announcing “>nuclear test w/legendary presenter Ri Chun Hui

“We’ve improved our ability to produce standardised and miniaturised nuclear warheads so we can produce as many as we want.

“This is our response to hostile powers, including the US. We sent out a message that if the enemies attack us, we can counterattack.

“The measures to protect our dignity and our right to exist from the US threat will continue.”

In the televised statement, North Korea said it had conducted a “nuclear warhead explosion” test meant to counter what Pyongyang calls US hostility.

Last week, it was reported that North Korea had established an infantry unit whose members were being trained to carry nuclear devices in backpacks and, in the event of war, to infiltrate the South before detonating their weapons.

 North Korean state television is hailing its “successful” nuclear test, in the country’s first comments on the explosion.

Here it is! North Korea&“>39;s confirmation of nuclear test pic.twitter.com/OnVXAlETwI

The latest nuclear test comes as North Korea’s leader launches what has been described as “new reign of terror”. Kim Jong-un has executed senior figures, including a vice-premier,  after  a series of recent high-profile defections. 

Most recently, he has banned sarcasm because he fears people only agree with him ironically, according to reports.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called North Korea’s latest nuclear test “absolutely unacceptable”.

“North Korea’s carrying out of a nuclear test is absolutely unacceptable for Japan.

“North Korea’s nuclear development is becoming a graver threat to Japan’s safety and severely undermines the peace and safety of the region and the international community.

“Japan lodges a serious protest against North Korea and condemns it in the strongest language.

The world will be watching most keenly for what China does.

Beijing has been North Korea’s main diplomatic supporter and protector for decades, shielding its errant ally from harsh international action.

But its patience is running thin. It strongly opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which it sees as a source of instability.

And China’s seeming inability to rein in Kim Jong-un is increasingly embarrassing for Beijing: the North’s latest missile tests this week came as China was hosting a G20 summit.

However, Beijing’s problem is that while it wants Pyongyang to stop causing trouble, it is desperate to avoid anything that might imperil the stability of the regime.

Its nightmare scenario is that if the regime collapses, millions of hungry North Koreans might flood over its border – and the US-allied South would take over, meaning American troops could be stationed right on the Chinese border.

North Korea’s nuclear test, combined with advances made by the Pyongyang regime in mobile ballistic missile technology, poses a grave threat to Japan, Defence Minister Tomomi Inada says.

“We can’t deny the possibility that North Korea is miniaturising a device to build a warhead,” Ms Inada said at a press briefing in Tokyo.

She also said the magnitude of the tremor suggested it was not a test of a hydrogen device.

US President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye have spoken by telephone about North Korea’s latest nuclear test, South Korea’s presidential office said.

Mr Obama and Ms Park talked for fifteen minutes on Friday while the American president was on Air Force One on his way back to the United States from a regional summit in Laos, according to the South Korean presidential office. 

US President Barack Obama had expressed concern earlier on Thursday about North Korea’s nuclear activity. Speaking to journalists in Laos, Mr Obama said:

“We are going to make sure that we put our defensive measures in place so that America is protected, our allies are protected.” 

“We will continue to put some of the toughest pressure that North Korea has ever been under as a consequence of this behaviour.”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has confirmed that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test.

Describing the test as a “self-destructive provocation”, she said the test was in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and was a direct challenge to the international community.

“With the nuclear test, Kim Jong-Un’s regime will only earn more sanctions and isolation… and such provocation will further accelerate its path to self-destruction,” she said, referring to the North’s young ruler.

The North’s fifth nuclear test proved the country’s leader Kim Jong-un’s “maniacal recklessness” in completely ignoring the world’s call to abandon his pursuit of nuclear weapons, Ms Park was quoted as saying by her office.

China’s environment ministry has begun emergency radiation monitoring along border regions in northeastern China after North Korea carried out a suspected nuclear test, state television said.

China, the North’s economic lifeline and only major ally, has previously offered cover to Pyongyang, though Beijing has expressed growing frustration with what outsiders call provocations.

To give an indication of the size of this latest explosion, it was double the strength of the nuclear test carried out in January.

The North’s third nuclear test, staged in February 2013, was previously considered the most powerful to date, with a yield of six to nine kilotons.

Authorities in Japan and South Korea said the tremor, measured at 5.3 by the US Geological Survey, showed every sign of another test, the latest since the January 6 test.

“The 10-kiloton blast was nearly twice the fourth nuclear test and slightly less than the Hiroshima bombing, which was measured about 15 kilotons,” said Kim Nam-Wook from the South’s meteorological agency said.

Shinzo Abe has given his first statement on the suspected nuclear test in North Korea. The Japanese Prime Minister said:  

“If North Korea conducted a nuclear test, that can never be tolerated. We must lodge a strong protest.”

Three T-4 aircraft, which are usually used to train fighter pilots, have been deployed to check for possible radiation from a suspected North Korean nuclear test, two sources from the nations Self Defence Forces told Reuters.

The White House’s National Security Council said on Thursday it was aware of the seismic activity in North Korea.

“We are monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional partners,” an NSC statement said.

North Korea’s nuclear tests are part of a push for a nuclear-armed missile that could one day reach the US mainland. A second nuclear test this year would be a defiant response to Western pressure on Pyongyang to halt its nuclear ambitions. The country has previously conducted tests every three to four years.

Japan’s defence ministry was preparing to dispatch aircraft to analyse air samples to see if any radiation could be detected, public broadcaster NHK reports.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida vowed that if a nuclear test is confirmed, Japan will “lodge a strong protest against North Korea… and immediately respond at the UN Security Council.”

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, told an emergency press conference that the government was acting swiftly to gather information.

“We think that there is a possibility that this quake occurred because North Korea carried out a nuclear test,” he said.

South Korea’s military says it believes the North has conducted its “most powerful” nuclear test to date.

“We believe that the North conducted a nuclear test today,” Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified defence ministry official as saying.

Seismograms for North Korean tests (absolute & relative scale) show similar waveforms, today&“>39;s event is largest pic.twitter.com/50cqQGLEPU

“The blast is believed to be about 10 kilotons – the most powerful one by the North so far,” the official was quoted as saying.

The North’s third nuclear test, staged in February 2013, was previously considered the most powerful to date, with a yield of six to nine kilotons.

Julian Ryall, the Telegraph’s correspondent in Tokyo, reports on some of the diplomatic and military developments leading up to this suspected test.

Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s president, is currently in south-east Asia to attend the East Asia Summit.

Just hours before the apparent North Korean nuclear test, members of the regional forum adopted a statement calling on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a manner that is “complete, verifiable and irreversible”.

The test also comes three days after the United Nations Security Council condemned the launch on Monday of three ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. The emergency meeting of the council in New York was the ninth statement so far this year against North Korea’s missile tests, which are in breach of previous UN resolutions.

Pyongyang reacted furiously to the UN statement, with state media carrying a reply from the foreign ministry declaring: “The DPRK categorically rejects this as an intolerable act of encroaching upon its dignity, right to existence, sovereignty and right to self-defence”.

“The more viciously the UN Security Council finds fault with the DPRK’s legitimate measures for self-defence by siding with the US, arch-criminal harassing peace and security on the Korean peninsula, the more glaringly it will reveal its true colours as an unfair, goof-for-nothing entity before the international community”, the Korea Central News Agency reported.

A scientist has shared a seismogram, which shows the apparent explosion today was bigger than the one carried out in January.

Seismogram of today&“>39;s M5.3 explosion in North Korea compared to their nuclear test from 8 months ago. pic.twitter.com/SgtngDQ3Za

The suspected test comes as the country celebrates Foundation Day, which marks the anniversary of the founding of the nation in 1948.

Major tests and events in North Korea are often staged to coincide with anniversaries and other landmark dates.

Today, by the way, is the anniversary of the day modern “>NorthKorea was founded. As I told my students at Yonsei, watch for fireworks.

The USGS has issued a pretty comprehensive explainer on the differences between a tremor caused by a quake and one from an explosion. Experts say this definitely points to the latter.

We can tell… M5.3 in “>NorthKorea is a blast not an earthquake

The Japan Meteorological Agency official said the seismological data was unusual and that it was now analysing the data.

“The form of the wave is different than in a normal quake,” the official said, according to public broadcaster NHK.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House will hold a National Security Council meeting at 11am local time – 3am UK time after the seismic activity pointed to a nuclear test.

The South Korean prime minister will preside over the meeting, a Blue House official said, Reuters reports.

South Korea’s military has also convened a crisis management team, the defence ministry in Seoul said in a statement.

Japan’s top government spokesman says there is a high possibility that North Korea conducted a nuclear test.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has instructed the relevant ministries to collect and analyse information regarding North Korea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

The apparent explosion took place near the Pyunggye-ri nuclear test site in the northeastern part of the county.

 This was also the location of its test in January. 

 The the US Geological Survey is reporting that a “possible explosion” has taken place in North Korea, bolstering speculation that the country has carried out a nuclear test..

“Possible explosion, located near the location where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the pas. If this is indeed an explosion, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center cannot determine what type of explosion it may be, whether nuclear or any other possible type.”

News Source TelegraphNews

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