News / Asia

    UN Condemns N. Korean Nuclear Test, Promises New Sanctions

    North Korea Claims 'Successful' Hydrogen Bomb Testi
    January 06, 2016 10:51 AM
    North Korea announced Wednesday it successfully conducted a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb test Wednesday, defying again U.N. resolutions banning the country's nuclear weapons program. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul the United States, Japan, South Korea and, to some degree, China have condemned Pyongyang’s latest provocation.
    Brian PaddenKen Bredemeier

    The U.N. Security Council said Wednesday that it was working to craft new sanctions against North Korea after its latest nuclear test, while the United States and other world powers voiced skepticism about Pyongyang's claim that the underground blast was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.

    After an emergency session, the Security Council said North Korea's actions posed "a clear threat to international peace and security."  The council said the nuclear test was "a clear violation" of previous council resolutions aimed at blocking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from developing nuclear weapons.

    In Washington, the White House sharply criticized North Korea, while also saying that initial U.S. analysis of the blast was "not consistent" with North Korea's boast that it now has hydrogen bomb technology. Such technology would signify a significant boost in the reclusive state's nuclear expertise and power.

    National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that the U.S. had consistently made clear it would not accept a nuclear North Korea.

    "We will continue to protect and defend our allies in the region, including the Republic of Korea, and will respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations," Price said.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "This act is profoundly destabilizing for regional security and seriously undermines international nonproliferation efforts. I condemn it unequivocally."

    Watch: Related TV report by Margaret Besheer:

    UN Prepares New North Korea Sanctionsi
    Margaret Besheer
    January 06, 2016 11:20 PM
    The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s announced nuclear test Wednesday, saying it would begin work immediately to take what it called “further significant measures” to bring the rogue nation in line with its international obligations. From the United Nations, VOA’s Margaret Besheer has more.

    Earlier Wednesday, North Korean state television declared, "We've now become a nuclear state that also holds a hydrogen bomb." The statement called the test a matter of self-defense to protect the country's sovereignty, and it made several critical references to the United States.

    The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.1-magnitude earthquake near Punggye-ri, where North Korea conducted three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

    North Korea's Kim said last month that his country possessed a hydrogen bomb. That was widely discounted as an unsubstantiated claim, and Wednesday's test drew the same reaction, since there were indications that it might have been less powerful than Pyongyang's bomb test in 2013. Rand Corporation nuclear analyst Bruce Bennett told VOA he doubted it was a hydrogen bomb being tested.

    Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the explosion less than 100 kilometers from the Chinese border was a "clear violation" of Security Council resolutions and "deeply regrettable."


    North Koreans watch a news broadcast on a video screen outside Pyongyang Railway Station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.
    North Koreans watch a news broadcast on a video screen outside Pyongyang Railway Station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016.

    International condemnation

    NATO, China and Russia also quickly condemned the test. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the test "undermines regional and international security." Moscow described the test as a "flagrant violation of international law," but its U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, later called for a "proportionate response."

    After North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013, the U.N. Security Council passed resolutions banning Pyongyang from conducting further nuclear and offensive weapons tests and imposed harsh economic sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime. 

    North Korea analyst Shin In-kyun with the Korea Defense Network said Wednesday’s nuclear blast was more powerful than its past nuclear tests. Based on the seismic activity generated, he estimated the bomb produced 40 kilotons of power, significantly more than the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II. 

    “The Hiroshima atomic bomb produced 16 kilotons, so North Korea’s nuclear test could have been 2.5 times more powerful than Hiroshima.” Shin said.

    Possible North Korea Nuclear Test

    Where: The Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility, North Korea’s only nuclear test site, located in mountainous terrain in the northeast of the country; has three visible tunnel entrances known as the South Portal, East Portal, and West Portal.

    Previous tests: 2006, 2009 and 2013; all at Punggye-ri

    Alert: Suspicions of a possible nuclear test were first raised by seismologists who detected a 5.1 magnitude tremor near Punggye-ri. The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the quake, detected at 10 a.m. Pyongyang time (0130 GMT), was about 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Kilju city, placing it next to the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

    No confirmation: The White House said it could not confirm the North Korean test.

    Sources: The Nuclear Threat Initiative, AFP

    But South Korean intelligence officials and other nuclear experts said the size of the blast was much smaller, making them seriously doubt the test involved a hydrogen bomb. Two South Korean lawmakers said the bomb's yield was about six kilotons.

    In its televised announcement, North Korea justified its need for nuclear capability to defend itself against U.S.-led efforts to isolate and pressure the Kim Jong Un regime through economic sanctions and military containment. 

    Atomic vs. Hydrogen Bomb

    Atomic: Involves fission reaction, in which a neutron collides with an atom's nucleus, splitting it into two nuclei and releasing nuclear energy. Also called an A-bomb. Nuclear reactors use fission to produce electricity. The U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945 to bring an end to World War Two.

    Hydrogen: Involves fusion reaction, in which nuclei collide to form a new nucleus. Also called a thermonuclear bomb or H-bomb. The sun and stars are powered by the fusion process. Fusion reactions allow for massive explosive yields – thousands of times more powerful than an atomic bomb.

    Comparison: The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima produced an explosion equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT. "Ivy Mike," the first thermonuclear (hydrogen) test, was carried out on the Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands in 1952, and produced an explosion equivalent to 10.4 million tons of TNT.

    Source: Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization 

    “The H-bomb test we conducted is a self-defensive measure to thoroughly protect our nation’s autonomy and our people’s right to live and to reliably secure regional peace and safety on the Korean peninsula against accumulating nuclear threats and the intimidation of the enemy group led by the United States,” the KCNA announcer said. 

    While North Korea promised not to share its nuclear technology, the announcer said Pyongyang planned to continue to develop its nuclear technology “until the sky falls.”

    South Korean, Japanese condemnation

    South Korean President Park Geun-Hye condemned what she called North Korea’s nuclear provocation and promised to work with the other regional players and the international community to develop a punitive response. 

    “Under close cooperation with the international society, our government needs to make North Korea pay a price for the nuclear test," she said.

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also condemned North Korea and promised a firm response that would include pressing for harsher U.N. sanctions.

    "North Korea's nuclear test is a serious threat to our nation's security and absolutely cannot be tolerated. We strongly denounce it," Abe said. 

    The Korea Defense Network's Shin In-kyun said he also expected Washington to actively advocate imposing the strongest possible sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime.  

    “The United States has been put in a situation in which it should impose more powerful military and economic sanctions against North Korea than the countries such as Iraq, Syria and the Republic of South Africa, which tried to develop nuclear power but failed in the past,” he said.

    What's the Difference Between an Atomic Bomb and a Hydrogen Bomb?i
    January 06, 2016 11:22 PM
    North Korea claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb, though the US and other world powers are skeptical. Here are key differences between hydrogen bomb technology and atomic weapons.

    Impact on China

    North Korea’s nuclear test announcement puts China, its key regional ally and economic supporter, in a difficult position.  Beijing supported U.N. sanctions after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in 2013, but it has also been pressing for a resumption of regional “six-party talks” with Washington, Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow to halt the North’s nuclear program in exchange for economic assistance and security guarantees. 

    In October, North Korea indicated its intention to conduct a fourth nuclear test during the 70th anniversary of the founding of its Workers' Party. 

    When that did not happen, South Korea credited China for acting as a moderating influence, but other analysts speculated that Pyongyang was just not technically prepared at that time. 

    No reason was given as to why the test was conducted this week, but January 8 is Kim Jong Un's birthday.

    Youmi Kim in Seoul and Margaret Besheer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
    by: Motone Holi from: Japan
    January 13, 2016 7:41 AM
    President of USA,don't use nuclear-weapon,even if nuclear-weapon of N-KOREA was exploded in Japan and in S-KOREA. We should use only conventional-Weapons against N-KOREA,because if Government of USA used nuclear-weapon against N-KOREA,Chinese-government misunderstanding about USA used nuclear-weapon.Are you OK?

    by: eusebio manuel vestias pe from: Borba
    January 10, 2016 4:59 AM
    The international community has a duty to put pressure on the baby´s North Korea the people are hungry

    by: Namiz from: RF
    January 06, 2016 10:18 PM
    We must establish an indisputable fact; THE PROLFIRATION OF WEAPONS.

    And it is impossible to stop this basic tendency to my great regret. It was said many times but things haven't budged an inch. Even more - the situation gradually become worst

    by: Bryan from: Greece
    January 06, 2016 9:11 PM
    North Korea isn't even a member of the IAEA so they are free to develop all the nuclear weapons they want. The security counsel can make all the resolutions it wants and North Korea can violate those resolutions all it wants. When a state is not a party to a treaty you can threaten sanctions and make resolutions all day and aren't worth the paper they are written on

    by: meanbill from: USA
    January 06, 2016 6:04 PM
    A Wise Man said that it is far better to overestimate the weapons of a possible enemy, than make the mistake of underestimating their weapons that could be disastrous in a war, (prepare for the worst, and hope for the best), and remember, whatever their nuclear weapons are, (if a hydrogen or atom bombs), they're defensive nuclear weapons, because the North Koreans don't have the infrastructure to support an invasion or offense against other countries of any kind?

    PS; As long as a country doesn't attack them why worry? .. but the sanctions and embargos place on them, may force them to sell their nuclear technology on making nuclear weapons to the highest bidder? .. Please don't force the North Koreans to make that choice? .. Seek a peaceful resolution without threats?

    by: drac
    January 06, 2016 3:57 PM
    I'm wondering if it really is the UN declaring a test a threat to peace or certain nations who have vested interest against the DPRK

    Giving the fact that America's war in Iraq turned much of the world including Europe into a battlefield,

    I just don't see how they UN can condemn a nuclear test within a nations own borders as a threat to international peace.

    by: william li from: canada
    January 06, 2016 1:34 PM
    we all see the end of Sadam and Kadafi after giving up their nuclear plans. NK is not stupid, and it knows that nukes is the its only bargain chip to guarantee its security.
    BTW NK is less a threat to the world than the US supported ISIS. I dont see NK kidnap or kill foreigners, or invaded other nations.

    by: Motone Holi from: Japan
    January 06, 2016 12:05 PM
    Happy new year ! VOA-STAFFs,God bless you.
    I think that is not hydrogen-bomb,
    but it was a atomic-bomb.And they don't have a SLBM,because their submarines are too small :and KIM-Jong feel small in the world,and so he ordered his servants acted a nuclear-test.

    by: Lou from: Atlanta
    January 06, 2016 11:52 AM
    We can only hope that they blow themselves up.

    by: Mark from: Virginia
    January 06, 2016 11:42 AM
    So, North Korea has entered the class of nuclear nut heads, has it.... surely such a proud moment for them. Congratulations, North Korea, you now have an instrument of destruction that is, in fact, a double-edged sword. The same power you claim to hold can just as easily destroy you, as much as it can destroy anyone else.

    You must be so very proud of yourselves. One kiloton, 10 kilotons, what does it matter how big the yield is when even one stick of dynamite can kill many people in the blink of an eye.
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