N. Korea Conducts ‘Perfect’ Hydrogen Bomb Test

N. Korea Conducts ‘Perfect’ Hydrogen Bomb TestN. Korea Conducts ‘Perfect’ Hydrogen Bomb Test

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, marking a dramatic escalation of the regime’s stand-off with the United States and its allies.

The announcement from Pyongyang came a few hours after international seismic agencies detected a manmade earthquake near the North’s test site, which Japanese and South Korean officials said was around 10 times more powerful than the tremor picked up after its last nuclear test a year ago, Reuters reported.

There was no independent confirmation that the detonation, which drew swift international condemnation, was a hydrogen bomb rather than a less powerful atomic device. But Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo could not rule out the possibility that it was a hydrogen bomb.

The test is a direct challenge to US President Donald Trump, who hours earlier had talked by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the “escalating” nuclear crisis in the region and has previously vowed to stop North Korea developing nuclear weapons that could threaten the United States.

North Korea, which carries out its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions and sanctions, said in an announcement on state television that a hydrogen bomb test ordered by leader Kim Jong Un was a “perfect success”.

The bomb was designed to be mounted on its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the North said.

North Korea claimed in January last year to have tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, also known as a thermonuclear device, but outside experts were skeptical, suggesting it could have been a “boosted device”, an atomic bomb that uses some hydrogen isotopes to increase its explosive yield.

The latest nuclear test comes amid heightened regional tension following Pyongyang’s two tests of ICBMs in July that potentially could fly about 10,000 km (6,200 miles), putting many parts of the US mainland within range.

One expert said the size of Sunday’s detonation, measured by the US Geological Survey at magnitude 6.3, meant it was possible it could be a hydrogen bomb test.

“The power is 10 or 20 times or even more than previous ones,” said Kune Y. Suh, a nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University. “That scale is to the level where anyone can say a hydrogen bomb test.”

***Global Condemnation

The test was condemned around the world on Sunday, with the UN nuclear watchdog expressing grave concern and Russia saying it could lead to serious consequences.

US President Donald Trump responded to North Korea’s nuclear test, calling it “very hostile and dangerous” to the United States.

“North Korea has conducted a major nuclear test,” Trump said in a series of tweet. “Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

"North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success."

Trump also commented on South Korea's "appeasement" toward North Korea

"South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said the nuclear test was “an extremely regrettable act” that was “in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community”.

China, the only North Korean ally that is a permanent member of the Security Council, urged its neighbor to stop “wrong” actions that worsen the situation. It said it would fully enforce UN resolutions on the country.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called for calm. “In the emerging conditions it is absolutely essential to keep cool, refrain from any actions that could lead to a further escalation of tensions,” it said on its website, adding that North Korea risked “serious consequences”.

Moscow urged all sides involved to hold talks, which it said was the only way to resolve the Korean peninsula’s problems.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday jointly condemned North Korea’s biggest nuclear test to date and called for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang.

The German government said in a statement that Merkel and Macron spoke on the phone, with both strongly condemning the new nuclear test in North Korea. “This latest provocation by the ruler in Pyongyang has reached a new dimension,” it added.

Merkel and Macron agreed that North Korea was violating international law and that the international community must react decisively to this new escalation, Berlin said.

“In addition to the United Nations Security Council, the European Union also has to act now. The chancellor and the president expressed their support for a tightening of EU sanctions against North Korea,” the statement said.

***Hourglass-Shaped Device

Hours before the test, North Korea’s state news agency KCNA had released pictures showing Kim Jong Un inspecting a silver-colored, hourglass-shaped warhead during a visit to the country’s nuclear weapons institute, accompanied by scientists.

Kim “watched an H-bomb to be loaded into new ICBM” and “set forth tasks to be fulfilled in the research into nukes”, KCNA said.

The shape shows a marked difference from pictures of the ball-shaped device North Korea released in March last year, and appears to indicate the appearance of a two-stage thermonuclear weapon, said Lee Choon-geun, senior research fellow at state-run Science and Technology Policy Institute.

KCNA said North Korea “recently succeeded” in making a more advanced hydrogen bomb.

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