The United States condemns North Korea’s Friday nuclear test “in the strongest possible terms as a grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
North Korea said it has hit the button on its fifth and potentially most powerful nuclear test Friday morning, claiming to have successfully detonated a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on ballistic rockets. State media said the test would enable North Korea to produce “a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power.”
A blast detected in North Korea around 9 a.m. local time (8:30 p.m. ET) is estimated to have had the explosive power of 10 kilotons, almost twice as large as its most recent test in January, said Kim Nam-wook of South Korea’s Meteorological Administration. (By comparison, the nuclear bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima in World War II yielded about 15 kilotons.)
South Korea, Japan and China condemned the test, saying it was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The Security Council plans to hold an emergency meeting on the issue Friday, a senior US official and a UN official said.
Seismic activity was detected Friday morning near Punggye-ri — the same location as four other tests. The US Geological Survey reported a 5.3-magnitude earthquake but later termed it an explosion.
Though North Korea has continued to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities, it has yet to pair the two successfully. But concern has been growing that the country is testing weapons at an unprecedented pace this year, CNN international correspondent Paula Hancocks said.
The test is another slap in the face to the North’s chief ally China which has been under pressure to rein in its behavior, and diminishes any chance of a resumption of six-country talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.