TOKYO (AP) — North Korea announced it detonated a thermonuclear device Sunday in its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date. The North called the test a “perfect success” while its neighbors condemned the blast immediately.
Though the precise strength of the blast has yet to be determined, the artificial earthquake it caused was several times stronger than tremors generated by its previous tests. It reportedly shook buildings in China and in Russia.
The test was carried out at 12:29 p.m. local time at the Punggye-ri site where North Korea has conducted nearly all of its past nuclear tests. Officials in Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7, while the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a magnitude 6.3.
North Korea’s state-run television broadcast a special bulletin Sunday afternoon to announce the test. It said leader Kim Jong Un attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order. Earlier in the day, the party’s newspaper ran a front-page story showing photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto the nose of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
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North Korea in July test-launched two ICBMs that are believed to be capable of reaching the mainland United States. That would be a major step forward for Pyongyang, which says its missile development is part of a defensive effort to build a viable nuclear deterrent that can target U.S. cities.
The U.S. State Department had no immediate reaction.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the Chinese government has “expressed firm opposition and strong condemnation.” It urged North Korea to “stop taking erroneous actions that deteriorate the situation.”
South Korea held a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in. National Security Director Chung Eui-yong said Moon will seek every available measure, including new U.N. sanctions or the deployment of more U.S. military assets, to further isolate Pyongyang.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called a test “absolutely unacceptable.”
The nuclear test is the North’s first since U.S. President Donald Trump assumed office in January. Trump has been talking tough with the North over its stepped-up missile tests, including a comment that Pyongyang would see fire, fury and power unlike any the world had ever witnessed if it continued even verbal…