SEOUL, South Korea (CBSNewYork/AP) — North Korea said it conducted a “higher level” nuclear warhead test explosion, one that will allow it to finally build an array of stronger, smaller and lighter nuclear weapons.
It is Pyongyang’s fifth atomic test and the second in eight months.
South Korea’s weather agency said the explosive yield of the North Korean blast would have been 10 to 12 kilotons, or 70 to 80 percent of the force of the 15-kiloton atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. The North’s fourth test was an estimated six kilotons.
The 5.0 magnitude earthquake Friday was the largest of the four past quakes associated with North Korean nuclear tests, according to South Korea’s weather agency.
Artificial seismic waves measuring 3.9 were reported after North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 and a 4.8 was reported from the fourth test this January, CBS News reported.
North Korea’s state TV said Friday that the test elevated the country’s nuclear arsenal and is part of its response to the international sanctions following its earlier nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in January and February.
The country said it will continue to take efforts to strengthen the quantity and quality of its nuclear weapons.
The reported nuclear test explosion is drawing world condemnation. It defies bothand diplomatic pressure to curb its nuclear ambitions, CBS News reported.
President Barack Obama condemned the nuclear test and said the U.S. “does not and never will” accept the country as a nuclear state.
Obama said he consulted by telephone with the leaders of South Korea and Japan after being briefed on the situation.
He said the leaders agreed to work with the U.N. Security Council and the international community to implement existing punitive measures imposed on North Korea for prior instances of unlawful nuclear activity. He said additional “significant” steps, including new sanctions, are being considered.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye also strongly condemned the test, saying in a statement that it showed the “fanatic recklessness of the Kim Jong Un government as it clings to nuclear development.”
Park said South Korea will employ all available measures to put more pressure on North Korea, which has previously conducted nuclear tests every three to four years.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called North Korea an “outlaw nation in the neighborhood” following Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test on Friday.
Suga says Japan will consider stepping up its own sanctions in addition to what it already has in place, along with those imposed by the U.N. Security Council.
Japan currently bans entry of North Korean nationals and re-entry of senior members of North Korean permanent residents’ association in Japan. It also has a ban on port entry of all North Korean vessels.
China, the North’s only major ally, issued a statement criticizing Pyongyang for carrying out a test with “disregard” for international objections.
The statement said China “resolutely opposes” the test and calls on North Korea to stop any behavior that “worsens the situation.”
France also strongly condemned the nuclear test. The French presidency said “the international community must unite against this new provocation.”
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Friday’s test is a “serious act which infringes the world’s peace and security.” He said “this escalation is unacceptable.”
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende also condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear test, saying in a tweet that “this unacceptable action causes deep concern & threatens peace.”
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said North Korea’s nuclear test, if confirmed, is in clear violation of numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions and in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.
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