North Korea says it has successfully conducted a test of hydrogen bomb meant for intercontinental ballistic missile. The announcement was made on state television, which also said no radiation had been released into the atmosphere.
North Korea’s sixth nuclear test went off precisely at noon Sunday Pyongyang time, according to the South Korean and Japanese governments, as well as numerous nongovernment experts in the United States.
“It has been concluded that North Korea conducted a nuclear test,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters in Tokyo.
A 6.3-magnitude tremor, according to U.S. and Chinese government seismologists, was recorded at surface level, centered at Punggye-ri where North Korea’s nuclear test facility is located.
That would be consistent with the detonation of a hydrogen bomb between 100 kilotons and 1 megaton, according to experts.
Five minutes later the same seismologists detected a magnitude 5 shaking, which indicated the likely collapse of a tunnel in which the nuclear device was placed.
The East Asia program director at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Jeffery Lewis, said he is not surprised that North Korea has achieved the capability to test a full-scale thermonuclear weapon.
“I’ve been telling people for years this is how the story ends,” Lewis told VOA. “The North Koreans have said this was a goal for a long time.”
“Every country with five nuclear explosions was well on its way to thermonuclear weapons by the fifth test,” Lewis added.
The midday North Korea seismic events were detected just hours after Pyongyang announced it has developed a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded into the country’s new intercontinental ballistic missile.
The Korean Central News Agency said leader Kim Jong Un inspected the device at the country’s Nuclear Weapons Institute but did not give a date.
KCNA quoted Kim as describing the weapon as a “thermonuclear weapon with super explosive power, made by our own efforts and technology.” He also was quoted as saying that all components of the hydrogen bomb were “100 percent domestically made.”
The undated report included photographs of Kim dressed in a black uniform, posing with a peanut shaped metal object.
North Korea has previously conducted five nuclear tests, the first on Oct. 9, 2006, and the most recent on Sept. 9, 2016.
Trump, Abe confer earlier
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking by phone Saturday, stressed the need for a close cooperation between their two countries and South Korea in the face of a growing nuclear threat from North Korea, according to a White House statement.
The two leaders also agreed that pressure must be raised on North Korea, Abe told reporters.
On Friday, the leaders of the United States and South Korea spoke by telephone about North Korea, reaffirming the need to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table by applying maximum sanctions and pressure, according to the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Following the reports of the seismic activity in the North, Moon immediately convened a meeting of his national security council.