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A 6.3 magnitude earthquake shook North Korea after the regime launched its biggest nuclear test to date sparking worldwide condemnation.
The test came hours after leader Kim Jong Un said his country had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb with “great destructive power.”
North Korea state media later claimed the regime had carried out a hydrogen bomb test; calling it a “complete success”. It said the device could be loaded on a ballistic missile.
The earthquake struck at about 12.20pm (local time) on Sunday in Kilju, northern Hamgyong Province.
Earlier on Sunday, photos released by the North Korean government showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a device that was apparently a thermonuclear weapon destined for an ICBM.
Another photo showed a diagram on the wall behind Kim of a bomb mounted inside a cone.
State media said Kim visited the Nuclear Weapons Institute and inspected a “homemade” hydrogen-bomb with “super explosive power” that “is adjustable from tens (of) kiloton to hundreds (of) kiloton”.
Japan’s foreign minister said North Korea had carried out its sixth nuclear test. The country concluded that the tremors in North Korea were a nuclear explosion, marking the sixth atomic test by Pyongyang since 2006.
Taro Kono told reporters: “The government confirms that North Korea conducted a nuclear test after examining information from the weather agency and other information.”
South Korean officials said the quake took place in Kilju County, where the regime’s nuclear test site is situated.
Experts making immediate estimates of the size of the detonation, based on the size of the quake it generated, have put it at 100 kilotons.
The Nagasaki bomb dropped by the US in August 1945 was about 20 kilotons and killed 70,000 people.
The “artificial quake” was almost 10 times more powerful than the tremor from the North’s fifth test.
North Korea last carried out a nuclear test in September 2016. It has defied UN sanctions and international pressure to develop nuclear weapons and to test missiles which could potentially reach the US mainland.
South Korea has called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council in the wake of the test.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Tara Aso said he condemned the test in the strongest terms, calling it an unforgivable violation of UN resolutions.
The country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said another nuclear test would be “absolutely unacceptable.”
North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme has made huge strides since Kim rose to power following his father’s death in late 2011.
The North followed the test of two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July by threatening in August to launch a intermediate range missiles toward the US Pacific island territory of Guam.
It fired a missile over northern Japan last week, the first such overflight by a missile capable of carrying nukes.
It may be difficult for outside experts to confirm that the nuclear device detonated Sunday was definitely a hydrogen bomb. State media reported that the test left no trace of radioactive material.
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