North Korea Tested Nuclear Bomb With 'Unprecedentedly Big Power'

The test, ordered by Kim Jong Un, was a "perfect success" and confirmed the precision and technology of the hydrogen bomb, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

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North Korea Tested Nuclear Bomb With 'Unprecedentedly Big Power'

Pyongyang's actions are set to further increase tensions in Northeast Asia

Highlights

  1. H-bomb can be loaded onto intercontinental ballistic missile: N Korea
  2. The test, ordered by Kim Jong Un, was a perfect success: state media
  3. South Korea says a 5.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded near test site
North Korea said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb with "unprecedentedly big power" on Sunday that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, in its first nuclear test under U.S. President Donald Trump's watch.

The test, ordered by Kim Jong Un, was a "perfect success" and confirmed the precision and technology of the hydrogen bomb, according to the Korean Central News Agency. Kim's regime has defied Trump's warnings as it seeks the capability to strike America with an atomic weapon.

"The creditability of the operation of the nuclear warhead is fully guaranteed," KCNA said.

South Korea's weather agency said it detected a magnitude 5.7 earthquake around 12:29 p.m. local time near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in northeast North Korea. Energy from Sunday's explosion was about six times stronger in force than the nuclear test conducted by Pyongyang last September, the weather agency said.

"All options are on the table," Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on public broadcaster NHK. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said a North Korea nuclear test would be "absolutely unacceptable and we must protest it strongly."

Pyongyang's actions are set to further increase tensions in Northeast Asia, where concerns have grown this year that a war of words between Trump and Kim could set off a military conflict. It was the sixth nuclear test by Pyongyang since 2006 and the first since the U.S. and South Korea elected new leaders.

Trump had no immediate response to the nuclear test, though he sent a tweet thanking relief workers after Hurricane Harvey devastated states in the southern U.S. He has repeatedly lashed out at North Korea since taking office, warning last month of "fire and fury" if Kim's regime continues to threaten the U.S.

Larger Weapon

"It's big -- an order of magnitude bigger than anything else we've seen the North Koreans explode," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California. "A larger weapon can obviously wreak more destruction. But I think there is also a political aspect -- the North Koreans want an arsenal as modern as anyone else."

It's also the second time North Korea has conducted a major provocation while China hosted a major international event. President Xi Jinping is hosting counterparts from Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa in a three-day summit starting on Sunday.

Trump's administration has sought to pressure China into cutting off food and fuel to North Korea, while warning that all options are on the table to stop Kim. China has resisted doing anything that would lead to the collapse of Kim's regime, in part to avoid destabilizing its economy and seeing the U.S. military gain influence in a unified Korea.

Michael Kovrig, senior adviser for Northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group, said he felt a tremor while sitting in a coffee shop on Sunday in the Chinese city of Hunchun, which is on the border with North Korea.

China Ties

"I would expect a measured response from the Chinese showing their displeasure," Kovrig said. "The fact that they did this test with the BRICS summit about to start really shows the dire state of relations at the moment."

Sunday's developments follow successive launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S., and the firing of a missile over Japan last week into the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea claimed beforehand it now had a more-developed hydrogen nuclear bomb that can be mounted on a new ICBM. The device is a multi-functional thermonuclear weapon adjustable from tens of kiloton to hundreds of kiloton and can be be detonated even at high altitudes for an electromagnetic pulse attack, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim Watched

The Nuclear Weapons Institute "recently succeeded in making a more developed nuke, true to the strategic intention of (its party) for bringing about a signal turn in nuclear weaponization," KCNA said. Kim, who guided work for "nuclear weaponization" during a visit to the institute, "watched a H-bomb to be loaded into new ICBM," it reported.

Kim was also quoted as saying that North Korea can now produce as many powerful nuclear weapons "as it wants."

The Trump administration has delivered mixed signals of late to North Korean provocations. After the missile launch over Japan, Trump dismissed the idea of negotiating with Kim's regime while his defense chief said the U.S. hasn't exhausted its diplomatic options.

After suggesting that North Korea's leader "is starting to respect us," Trump on Wednesday returned to his tougher line. "The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!" he said in a Twitter post.

South Korea, the U.S., and Japan are pressing China to impose stronger economic measures to stop Kim's nuclear ambitions. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously voted to tighten sanctions that targeted about a third of North Korea's $3 billion in exports.

The UN has banned North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and imposed sanctions after past tests. Kim's regime has said it won't give up its nuclear weapons and missile program until the U.S. drops its "hostile" policies such as joint military drills with South Korea that ended last week.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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