PYONGYANG – North Korea said Sunday it has successfully tested a nuclear weapon that could be loaded onto a long-range missile.
The communist state said its sixth nuclear test was a “perfect success”, hours after seismologists had detected an earth tremor. The “artificial quake” was 9.8 times more powerful than the tremor from the North’s fifth test, the state weather agency said.
Pyongyang said it had tested a hydrogen bomb – a device many times more powerful than an atomic bomb.
North Korea last carried out a nuclear test in September 2016. It has defied U.N. sanctions and international pressure to develop nuclear weapons and to test missiles which could potentially reach the mainland U.S.
South Korean officials said the latest test took place in Kilju County, where the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site is situated.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was pictured with what state media said was a new type of hydrogen bomb. State media said the device could be loaded on to a ballistic missile.
“Strongest possible” response
Japan condemned the test and South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened emergency security council talks.
Seoul and Washington also discussed deploying US strategic military assets to the Korean peninsula after North Korea defied international warnings and conducted its most powerful nuclear test ever on Sunday, South Korea’s national security adviser Chung Eui-yong said in a news briefing.
South Korea said North’s defiant nuclear test should be met with the “strongest possible” response, including new U.N. Security Council sanctions to “completely isolate” the country.
China’s ministry of foreign affairs also released a statement saying it “resolutely opposes” and “strongly condemns” the nuclear test, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
Despite the bluster and threats from the Trump administration in Washington and near-universal condemnation from around the world, Pyongyang is not going to halt or constrain its nuclear activities.
So far all efforts to pressure North Korea – sanctions, isolation, and military threats – have all failed to move Pyongyang.
The North has previously claimed to have miniaturized a nuclear weapon but experts have cast doubt on this. There is also skepticism about the North’s claims to have developed a hydrogen bomb, which is more powerful than an atomic bomb.
Hydrogen bombs use fusion – the merging of atoms – to unleash huge amounts of energy, whereas atomic bombs use nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms.