North Korea conducts third nuclear test

North Korea conducts third nuclear test
A magnitude 5.1 “artificial earthquake” was reported near a nuclear test site in North Korea on Tuesday morning, with South Korean Defence Ministry officials telling local media that the seismic activity was the result of a third nuclear test conducted by the reclusive state.
The “man-made earthquake” was also reported to have been felt in parts of northeastern China near the border with North Korea, close to the region where the country tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009 in moves that flouted international sanctions and heightened regional tensions.
A third nuclear test was expected by Chinese and Western officials sometime this week, with Saturday – the birthday of former leader Kim Jong-il – earlier seen as a likely date.
Warnings ignored
The reported test has, however, not yet been confirmed by North Korean State media. But only on Monday, Kim Jong-un, who took over as the new leader in December 2011 following the death of his father, signalled that the North – officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – would continue with conducting long-range rocket tests despite recent warnings from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and even China, the North’s only ally.
The ruling Workers’ Party of Korea adopted a resolution on Monday that “stressed the need to continue launching satellites of Kwangmyongsong series and powerful long-range rockets,” the State-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
Seismic activity was detected at 11.57am local time (8.27 am IST) on Tuesday morning, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency said. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak had “convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council”, with both Defence Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials believing a nuclear test had been conducted, the report added.
Yonhap also reported that the North had notified the United States and China a day earlier. Chinese officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday morning, with some government departments remaining closed on account of the Lunar New Year.
South Korea’s reaction
South Korea has requested the UNSC to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday evening, an official told Yonhap. A Defence Ministry official said the nuclear device had, according to initial estimates, yielded 6-7 kilotons, suggesting Tuesday’s test had exceeded the yields reported in tests in 2006 and 2009.
The move is set to heighten regional tensions. The previous nuclear test, in 2009, brought international condemnation and tightened sanctions from the UNSC.
In recent weeks, Chinese officials have said they had cautioned the North against going ahead with the test. While Beijing has continued to support the regime as it fears instability on its northeastern borders, Chinese analysts and State media have recently called on the country to take a tougher approach in dealing with the North.
- The Hindu