North Korea said Sunday that it successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded into an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a move the United States and its allies in the region are likely to view as a major provocation.
North Korea’s state-run TV broadcaster said that Pyongyang carried out the sixth nuclear test in a special announcement hours after an artificial earthquake was detected near its nuclear test site.
Seismological data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) showed that an explosion caused a 6.3-magnitude tremor at 12:29 p.m. in the country’s northeast, not far from the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
The Japanese government has also confirmed the nuclear test. “After analyzing data provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Japanese government concluded that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in a live television broadcast.
If the initial data holds, it would make it the most powerful weapon North Korea has ever tested.The last nuclear test Pyongyang conducted, which was nearly a year ago, triggered a 5.3-magnitude seismological event.
“If North Korea did indeed conduct a nuclear test, we absolutely cannot tolerate and must protest firmly. We will convene a National Security council meeting to gather and analyze the information,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a live television broadcast prior to Kono’s announcement.
South Korea is holding a National Security Council meeting to discuss the incident, presided by President Moon Jae-in, according to South Korea’s presidential office. Japan has dispatched so-called “radiation sniffer” planes to take samples to confirm that a nuclear explosion did, in fact, take place.