North Korea has conducted a “higher level nuclear warhead test explosion, which it is trumpeting as finally allowing it to build “at willan array of stronger, smaller and lighter nuclear weapons.
It is Pyongyang’s fifth atomic test and the second in eight months.
South Korea’s president called the detonation, which Seoul estimated had produced the North’s biggest-ever explosive yield, an act of “fanatic recklessness.”
The North’s boast of a technologically game-changing nuclear test defies both tough international sanctions and long-standing diplomatic pressure to curb its nuclear ambitions.
It will raise serious worries in many world capitals that Pyongyang has moved another step closer to its goal of a nuclear-armed missile that could one day strike the US mainland.
Hours after Seoul noted unusual seismic activity near the North’s northeastern nuclear test site, Pyongyang said in its state-run media that a test had “finally examined and confirmed the structure and specific features of movement of (a) nuclear warhead that has been standardised to be able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets.”
“The standardisation of the nuclear warhead will enable (North Korea) to produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power with a firm hold on the production of various fissile materials and technology for their use. This has definitely put on a higher level (the North’s) technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets,” the country said.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye 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.”
North Korea said there was no radioactive material leaked, but the explosion has put the region on edge.
Chinese state media reported that the nation’s environmental protection agency started nuclear radiation monitoring. Japanese planes began to collect air samples from national air space to analyse possible radioactive materials. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said Japan’s capital city is also testing water samples and monitoring radiation levels in the air.
The seismic incident comes on the 68th anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s government and just days after world leaders gathered in China for the G20 economic summit.