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.
This marks 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.
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 U.S. 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.
World leaders angry, condemn N/Korea’s hydrogen bomb test
North Korea’s biggest nuclear test of Sunday has been condemned around the world, with U.S.
President Donald Trump saying “appeasement” would not work as the authorities in Pyongyang “only understand one thing.”
The explosion of what North Korea said was an advanced hydrogen bomb came just days after it fired a missile over Japan and a few hours after Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by phone about the “escalating” nuclear crisis.
Trump, who said after last week’s missile launch, that talking to Pyongyang “is not the answer”, tweeted that Sunday’s test showed North Korea’s “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States”.
China had tried but failed to solve the problem, he said, while what he called South Korea’s “talk of appeasement” would not work as “they (the North Koreans) only understand one thing!”
Russia struck a more cautious tone.
“In the emerging conditions, it is absolutely essential to keep cool, refrain from any actions that could lead to a further escalation of tensions,” Russia’s foreign ministry said, adding that North Korea risked “serious consequences”.
Moscow said talks were the only way to resolve the crisis. Later on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was set to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in China.
China urged North Korea to stop “wrong” actions and said it would fully enforce U.N. resolutions on the country.
Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson called the nuclear test “reckless” and a “provocation”.
“They seem to be moving closer towards a hydrogen bomb which, if fitted to a successful missile, would unquestionably present a new order of threat,” he told Sky news, adding that there were no palatable military solutions.
French President Emmanuel Macron urged the United Nations Security Council to act.
“The international community must treat this new provocation with the utmost firmness, in order to bring North Korea to come back unconditionally to the path of dialogue and to proceed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic program,” he said in a statement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has no access to North Korea, called the nuclear test, Pyongyang’s sixth since 2006, “an extremely regrettable act” that was “in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.”