North Korea >said it conducted a powerful hydrogen bomb test on Wednesday, a defiant and surprising move that, if confirmed, would be a huge jump in Pyongyang’s quest to improve its still-limited nuclear arsenal.
South Korea’s spy agency and outside nuclear experts cast strong doubt, however, saying the estimated explosive yield from North Korea’s fourth nuclear explosion was much smaller than what even a failed >H-bomb detonation would produce.
6.06 p.m. IST: Italy says Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni will be calling his Japanese counterpart to discuss “the necessary reactions of the international community” to what Rome calls North Korea’s “provocation” if it is confirmed that a nuclear test was carried out.
Japan currently holds the rotating helm of the Group of 7 industrialised nations. Italy is a G7 member.
Italy’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that a nuclear test by North Korea would “represent a grave violation of international law and of the pertinent U.N. Security Council resolutions and a serious threat to international and regional peace and security.”
The statement added that Mr. Gentiloni, “in condemning such a violation, calls on North Korea to honour its international obligations”.
5.56 p.m. IST: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the nuclear weapons test announced by North Korea is a “clear breach” of U.N. Security Council resolutions and “undermines regional and international security.”
Mr. Stoltenberg said in a statement on Wednesday, “I condemn the continued development by North Korea of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and its inflammatory and threatening rhetoric.”
North Korea said on Wednesday that it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test a move that would put the country a step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal.
4.05 p.m. IST: Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it hasn’t been confirmed that North Korea has carried out an actual nuclear test.
In a statement, the Ministry calls on “all interested sides to preserve maximum restraint and to not take actions that could rouse the uncontrolled growth of tensions in Northeast Asia.”
3.56 p.m. IST: The EU foreign policy chief says that North Korea’s nuclear test, if confirmed, would represent “a grave violation of the DPRK’s international obligations not to produce or test nuclear weapons.”
Federica Mogherini said in a statement that these obligations are determined by U.N. Security Council resolutions. The North’s action would represent “a threat to the peace and security of the entire Northeast Asia region”.
She called on North Korea to re-engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue with the international community, in particular in the framework of the six-nation talks, “and to cease this illegal and dangerous behaviour”.
She says she will consult with South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers and work with the U.N. Security Council meeting in an emergency session later Wednesday.
3.21 p.m. IST: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says if confirmed, North Korea’s hydrogen bomb test would be in in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and “is deeply regrettable”.
IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano issued a statement which urged North Korea to implement fully all relevant resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA.
Mr. Amano said that IAEA remains ready to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue by resuming its nuclear verification activities in the North once a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.
3.02 p.m. IST: Britain’s Foreign Secretary says that if a nuclear bomb has been detonated by North Korea, it would be a grave breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Philip Hammond condemned North Korea’s announcement of the nuclear test, and said it underlined the “very real threat that North Korea represents to regional and international security.”
2.50 p.m. IST: A South Korean lawmaker says the country’s spy agency told him in a private briefing that Pyongyang may not have conducted a hydrogen bomb test given the relatively small size of the seismic wave reported.
Lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo says the National Intelligence Service told him that an estimated explosive yield of six kilotons and a quake with a magnitude of 4.8 were detected Wednesday.
According to him, that’s smaller than the estimated explosive yield of 7.9 kilotonnes and a quake with a magnitude of 4.9 that were reported after the 2013 nuclear test, and only a fraction of a typical successful hydrogen bomb test’s explosive yield of hundreds of kilotonnes.
Mr. Lee says the agency told him that even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation typically yields tens of kilotonnes. Mr. Lee sits on the parliament’s intelligence committee.
1.51 p.m. IST: China, Australia and France have strongly condemned North Korea’s announcement of a nuclear test.
China, the North’s closest ally, says the reported test was carried out in defiance of the international community and urged North Korea to refrain from acts that might worsen tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says in a statement Wednesday that the action “confirms North Korea’s status as a rogue state and a continuing threat to international peace and security.”
French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that “France condemns this unacceptable violation of Security Council resolutions and calls for a strong reaction from the international community.”
1.06 p.m. IST: South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has convened an emergency national security council meeting and is vowing a tough response to the North’s bomb test.
Ms. Park said at the start of the meeting that the government “must get North Korea to face corresponding measures based on closed cooperation with the international community.”
She says: “It’s not only grave provocation of our national security, but also an act that threatens our lives and future. It’s also a direct challenge to world peace and stability.”
Ms. Park also ordered the military to bolster its combined defense posture with the U.S. military, saying South Korea will sternly deal with any additional provocation by North Korea.
She called for a swift, accurate analysis on the North’s claim to have conducted a hydrogen bomb test.
12.31 p.m. IST: In Pyongyang, North Koreans reacted enthusiastically to the news that the country has carried out its fourth nuclear test since 2006.
Kim Sok Chol, a 32-year-old man who watched the TV announcement on a big screen at the train station square, told The Associated Press that he does not know much about what a hydrogen bomb is, but added that “since we have it, the U.S. will not attack us. I think the first successful H-bomb test is a great national event.”
Ri Sol Yong, a 22-year-old university student, said the test “gives us more national pride.”
She said, “Thanks to the fact that our country is a nuclear weapons state, I can study at the university without any worries. If we didn’t have powerful nuclear weapons, we would already have been turned into the slaves of the U.S.”
11.02 a.m. IST: The White House says it can’t confirm a North Korean nuclear test, but said it would condemn such a test as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the U.S. is “aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula in the vicinity of a known North Korean nuclear test site and have seen Pyongyang’s claims of a nuclear test.” > More...
Breach of treaty
Lassina Zerbo, the head of the U.N. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization which monitors worldwide for nuclear testing, says if confirmed, the test by North Korea would be a breach of the treaty and a grave threat to international peace and security.
Mr. Zerbo says in a statement that the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing has been respected by 183 countries since 1996.
'An artifical quake'
South Korean officials said they detected an ‘artificial earthquake’ near North Korea’s main nuclear testing site. The U.S Geological Survey measured the magnitude of the seismic activity at 5.1 on its website.
An official from the Korea Metrological Administration, South Korea’s weather agency, said it believed the earthquake was caused artificially, without elaborating, and originated 49 kilometres or 30 miles north of Kilju, the north-eastern area where North Korea’s main nuclear test site is located.
North Korea conducted underground tests to set off nuclear devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013, for which it has been subject to U.N. Security Council sanctions banning trade and financing activities that aid its weapons programme.
The test would further North Korea’s international isolation by prompting a push for new, tougher sanctions at the United Nations and worsening Pyongyang’s already bad ties with Washington and its neighbours.
'Will continue to strengthen nuclear programme'
In a statement after conducting its fourth nuclear test, North Korea's state news agency said it will not give up its nuclear programme as long as the United States maintained what it called "its stance of aggression".
North Korea also said it will act as a responsible nuclear state and vowed not to use its nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was infringed. It also said it will not transfer its nuclear capabilities to other parties.
Japan calls it as 'significant threat'
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday condemned a Hydrogen bomb test conducted by North Korea, saying the test was a “significant threat”.
Japan held its National Security Council meeting immediately after a 5.1-magnitude quake was detected around 10.30 a.m. (local time) in the northeastern part of North Korea, Xinhua reported. > More...
France condemns H-bomb testing
France condemned North Korea's reported test of a hydrogen bomb, calling for a "strong reaction from the international community", President Francois Hollande's office said in a statement. The statement called the reported test "an unacceptable violation of (U.N.) Security Council resolutions".
Last December, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un claimed his country had developed a hydrogen bomb, a step up from the less powerful atomic bomb. > More...