North Korea drew worldwide condemnation Tuesday after it announced it had successfully conducted its third nuclear test, in direct defiance to U.N. Security Council orders to shut down its atomic activity or face more sanctions and international isolation.
Experts say North Korea’s successful detonation of a miniaturized nuclear device is concerning because it indicates the country may be getting closer to the ability to put a nuclear device on a missile.
North Korea expert Andrei Lankov told Fox News that possession of such a “miniaturized” device would be necessary to create a nuclear warhead. “It shows they are advancing their nuclear technology,” Lankov said. He also noted the significance of the timing of the test, which came just months after North Korea’s successful intercontinental ballistic missile test. “It seems they are very close to being able to put a device on a missile,” Lankov said.
Peter Beck, an expert for Asia Society, tells Fox News the blast appears to be “significantly greater” than North Korea’s past nuclear tests. He, too, said the test “…shows a greater commitment by North Korea to marry the missile and nuclear programs.”
Earlier Tuesday, South Korean, U.S. and Japanese seismic monitoring agencies said they detected an earthquake in North Korea with a magnitude between 4.9 and 5.2.
The timing will be seen as significant. The test came hours before President Obama was scheduled to give his State of the Union speech, a major, nationally televised address. It’s also only days before the Saturday birthday of Kim Jong Un’s father, late leader Kim Jong Il, whose memory North Korean propaganda has repeatedly linked to the country’s nuclear ambitions. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
North Korea said the atomic test was merely its “first response” to what it called U.S. threats, and said it will continue with unspecified “second and third measures of greater intensity” if Washington maintains its hostility.