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N. Korea nuke test 'serious threat' to security
Publication Date : 13-02-2013
World leaders strongly condemn North Korea's rocket launch, as they see it as a clear threat to international peace and security
North Korea announced yesterday it successfully conducted an underground nuclear test that day, in a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
The test is a "grave threat" to Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, hours after Pyongyang confirmed it had successfully detonated an atomic device. The launch was also condemned by the US, Russia, and China.
It was North Korea's third nuclear test, following others in October 2006 and May 2009, and the first under new leader Kim Jong-un.
The latest test is a violation of Security Council resolutions, including one implemented following the launch of an apparent long-range ballistic missile in December, and is expected to prompt strong criticism from the international community, which has been calling for North Korea to refrain from conducting a third nuclear test.
The test is also likely to seriously affect the resumption of six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear programme and other issues.
North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency reported yesterday afternoon that the nation tested a lighter, miniaturised device with a greater explosive force than those detonated in previous tests.
The South Korean government reported that an artificial earthquake was detected with an epicentre in northeastern Kilju County, where North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site is located. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga echoed this at a hastily arranged press conference.
Suga said the magnitude-5.2 quake was detected by the Japan Meteorological Agency at 11:57am, and the depth of the quake was less than one kilometre.
By conducting the nuclear test, North Korea is believed to be showcasing its advances in the development of nuclear and missile technologies to boost its bargaining power with the United States, while also cementing the leadership of Kim and his regime by trumpeting its nuclear capabilities both at home and abroad.
A South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman said the ministry was aware that North Korea had informed China and the United States on Monday of its plans to conduct a nuclear test.
The yield of the detonation that caused the "earthquake" detected at 11:57am is estimated to be equivalent to six or seven kilotons of TNT, the spokesman said. The blast yields of the previous tests were equivalent to one kiloton in October 2006, and from two to six kilotons in May 2009, he added.
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak convened an emergency national security meeting at 1pm, and the South Korean Defence Ministry strengthened security against North Korea.
The U.S. Geological Survey announced that it had detected a magnitude-4.9 artificial earthquake near North Korea's nuclear test site.
According to Yonhap news agency, South Korea's Meteorological Administration confirmed that the initial waves of the earthquake that occurred were significantly bigger than its secondary waves, suggesting it was artificial in origin.
The latest nuclear test suggests North Korea may have acquired the technology necessary to develop a nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on a ballistic missile, some observers said.
Atomic bombs are made from plutonium or highly enriched uranium. North Korea is believed to have developed nuclear technologies using plutonium and highly enriched uranium simultaneously. While the previous nuclear tests used plutonium, it is possible North Korea used highly enriched uranium in the latest test.
The South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman said it was not clear whether Pyongyang used uranium or plutonium in the latest test.
North Korea conducted both of its previous nuclear tests after launching ballistic missiles. The first nuclear test was carried out three months after the launch of Taepodong-2 in July 2006, and the second occurred one month after the launch of the improved Taepodong-2 in April 2009.