US and South Korean security chiefs hold emergency talks as hydrogen bomb test puts Pyongyang closer to developing warhead
Anna Fifield, the Tokyo bureau chief for Washington Post, has tweeted the front page of Rodong Sinmun, a North Korean newspaper. The headline, she says, reads: “Respected supreme leader comrade Kim Jong-un directs the nuclear weapons project.”
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun: H-bomb warhead edition. “Respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong Un directs the nuclear weapons project” pic.twitter.com/FioltAifXs
A dark shadow is looming over the world after more than half a century of peace, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has said after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.
Xi made no direct reference to Sunday morning’s detonation as he addressed an annual summit of the Brics nations but told his audience that only through dialogue, consultation and negotiation could “the flame of war be put out”.
In South Korea, residents are continuing as normal despite the actions of their unpredictable neighbour.
Yeon Park, from Gimhae in southern South Korea, says no one really cares as it’s happened before. He told the Guardian:
To be honest, not many South Koreans realise the reality [of the situation] including myself. What North Korea is doing is on air everyday on the news, but I don’t think people here care about it a lot. Even I don’t really care about it as this kind of news has occurred many times.
I know it is an emergency. But this happens often and the end is always quiet and nothing happened. So I do not worry about it again. News comes from multiple channels, but I do not pay much attention. I don’t know how things are going, but I do not think there will be anything particularly bad this time again.
I don’t feel too anxious or concerned at the moment. I normally take the policy of seeing how my Korean colleagues and friends react to these bits of news from the North. It seems like business as usual today. I stopped getting worried about these things a few years ago. However, I’m probably keeping a closer eye on it at the moment as there has been an uptick in the Northern Korean chest beating of late.
In China, The Global Times, a nationalist, Communist party-run tabloid that sometimes reflects Beijing’s way of thinking, has put out this English-language editorial.
“This is another wrong choice that Pyongyang has made in violation of UN security council resolutions and the will of the international community. This test will result in a new round of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula and heighten the risk of the situation spiralling out of control due to possible miscalculations by all sides,” the newspaper warns.
“Currently, the most important thing for China is to make sure that we are able to detect if a nuclear leak occurs, to allow us to inform people living in the north-eastern China to take the appropriate safety measures.”
Japan’s prime minister has said North Korea’s nuclear test is “absolutely unacceptable” and said its nuclear and missile programmes pose a “more grave and urgent” threat to his country.
“The fact that North Korea forced through a nuclear test this time is absolutely unacceptable to our country,” Shinzo Abe said in a statement.
North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programme is a threat that is more grave and urgent to the safety of our country and has entered a new stage. It is significantly hurting regional and international peace and stability. Our country lodge a strict protest against North Korea and condemns it in the strongest words.
John Delury, a North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul, wrote an analysis earlier today on what needs to happen next to calm the situation down. Donald Trump has a very big part to play, he said.
The test does not fundamentally change the situation on the Korean peninsula, though it is another acceleration. What is still missing is diplomacy. It is up to the Trump administration whether they want to flip this into an opportunity to belatedly start talking directly to Pyongyang, or just continue down the beaten track of shows of force, more UN sanctions, and secondary sanctions.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog said the test was “extremely regrettable” and called North Korea’s nuclear programme a “grave concern”.
Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said:
Today’s nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is an extremely regrettable act … Once again, I strongly urge the to fully implement all relevant resolutions. The agency continues to closely follow developments in the DPRK*s nuclear programme, which is a matter of grave concern.
If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act would indicate that the DPRK’s nuclear programme is advancing rapidly. I sincerely hope that this will serve as the final wake-up call to the international community to outlaw all nuclear testing by bringing the CTBT into force.
For background reading, my colleague Pádraig Collins has put together this timeline of North Korea’s nuclear weapon development.
The apparent nuclear test today is the sixth test that North Korea is thought to have carried out since 2006. According to South Korean authorities, the test was about 11 times stronger than North Korea’s test in January last year and up to six times stronger than its test last September.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Sunday it was deeply concerned about a reported nuclear test by North Korea. The ministry said it regretted that the leadership of North Korea was “creating a serious threat” for the region and warned that “the continuation of such a line is fraught with serious consequences” for Pyongyang.
The statement on the ministry’s website said:
This latest demonstrative disregard by Pyongyang of the requirements of the relevant resolutions of the UN security council and the norms of international law deserves the strongest condemnation.
In the unfolding conditions, it is imperative to remain calm and to refrain from any actions that lead to a further escalation of tension. We call on all interested parties to immediately return to dialogue and negotiations as the only possible way for an overall settlement of the problems of the Korean peninsula.
The President of the Republic calls on the members of the United Nations security council to quickly react to this new violation by North Korea of international law.
The international community must treat this new provocation with the utmost firmness, in order to bring North Korea back unconditionally to the path of dialogue and to proceed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its nuclear and ballistic programme.
During an emergency call between US national security adviser HR McMaster and his Japanese counterpart, McMaster said Washington was firmly committed to defending Japan, including with its nuclear deterrent, following North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
The security official made the assurance during a telephone call to Shotarou Taniuchi, the director-general of the Japanese national security council, according to a Japanese government statement.
China’s nuclear safety administration said it had begun emergency monitoring for radiation along the border after North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test.
The test was widely felt in north-east China and rocked some cities for as long as eight seconds, according to reports and accounts on social media. It was felt as far away as the city of Changchun, about 250 miles (400km north-west of North Korea’s test site at Punggye-ri, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Tremor felt in Yanji city on China’s border, as a 6.3-magnitude shallow earthquake struck North Korea pic.twitter.com/EpnCnhiSFZ
I was eating brunch just over the border here in Yanji when we felt the whole building shake. It lasted for about five seconds. The city air raid sirens started going off.
I put my underpants on and I just ran, and when I reached the first floor I can say I wasn’t the only one running away with just my underpants on.
I was lying down and sleeping when the tremor woke me up. At first, I thought it was a dream.
Guam homeland security and the office of civil defence has released a statement via its Facebook page seeking to reassure citizens. The statement said the situation was being closely monitored by security chiefs.
There are no known immediate threats assessed for Guam and the Marianas at this time. The threat level remains the same.
The nuclear test will create maximum embarrassment for Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, experts have said. Xi was only hours from opening the summit of the BRICS nations – the association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – when news of the test emerged.
Eva Dou of the Wall Street Journal tweeted that the opening speech had been upstaged by North Korea’s actions.
Xi Jinping just began his opening speech for Brics summit…which has been upstaged by North Korea nuclear test pic.twitter.com/cm2l2q4bZs
South Korea said North Korea’s defiant sixth nuclear test should be met with the “strongest possible” response, including new UN security council sanctions to “completely isolate” the country.
(URGENT) S. Korea says will consider deploying most powerful U.S. tactical weapons https://t.co/z1shiVUa5I
China’s ministry of foreign affairs has just released a statement saying it “resolutely opposes” and “strongly condemns” the nuclear test, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
The statement says:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has once again conducted a nuclear test in spite of widespread opposition from the international community. The Chinese government resolutely opposes and strongly condemns it.
My colleague Justin McCurry in Tokyo has the full story on this morning’s news that North Korea seems to have carried out its sixth nuclear test.
Here’s some background from that article:
Sunday’s test – the first since Trump took office in January – offers more evidence that North Korea is moving perilously close to developing a nuclear warhead capable of being fitted on to an intercontinental ballistic missile [ICBM] that can strike the US mainland.
Since it conducted its first nuclear test just over a decade ago, the regime has strived to refine the bombs’ design and reliability, as well as increasing their yield.
Top security officials from the US and South Korea have spoken following North Korea’s apparent sixth nuclear test, South Korea’s presidential office has said.
US national security adviser HR McMaster spoke with his counterpart, Chung Eui-yong in Seoul, for 20 minutes in an emergency phone call about an hour after the detonation, the office said.
This is Nicola Slawson and I’ll be continuing to update you on the latest news from North Korea throughout the morning.
Here’s the full text of the statement from North Korea on its hydrogen bomb test, which Jonathan Cheng of the Wall Street Journal has posted on Twitter:
Full statement from N. Korea on today’s nuclear test. pic.twitter.com/mVciIpBgib
It sounds like the second tremor reported, initially thought to be another nuclear test, was a structural collapse in the aftermath of the first explosion,possibly a tunnel collapse, reports say.
USGS on 2nd quake: “significantly smaller event is likely a secondary feature (possibly a structural collapse) associated with larger event” https://t.co/8efWEtp5cO
North Korea has said it successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded on to a intercontinental ballistic missile, Yonhap News in South Korea reports.
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.
An artificial earthquake with a 5.7 magnitude was detected at 12:29pm near North Korea’s nuclear site in the north-eastern area.
The Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent, Justin McCurry, has written a wrap of the latest developments in North Korea:
North Korea has carried out a nuclear test in a direct challenge to Donald Trump, hours after it released images of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb that will be loaded on to a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
The regime confirmed it had conducted its sixth underground test, which was heralded by a magnitude 6.3 magnitude earthquake felt in Yanji, China, about 10km from North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the country’s north-east, according to South Korea’s meteorological agency.
BREAKING: North Korea says it has successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test
According to South Korean news agency Yonhap:
(URGENT) North Korea says it conducted H-bomb test https://t.co/aupvGBBoJj
South Korea has contradicted a news report that there was a second earthquake near North Korea’s nuclear test site, according to AP News. The Korea Meteorological Administration said it had not detected another quake.
South Korea’s Yonhap news service reported a second earthquake had happened eight minutes after the first, citing China’s earthquake agency.
The US president has postured and threatened while Kim Jong-un has simply ploughed on building a nuclear warhead and a missile that can carry it, writes John Delury, a North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul:
The test does not fundamentally change the situation on the Korean peninsula, thought it is another acceleration. What is still missing is diplomacy. It is up to the Trump administration whether they want to flip this into an opportunity to belatedly start talking directly to Pyongyang, or just continue down the beaten track of shows of force, more UN sanctions, and secondary sanctions. More of the same stuff that has been done for the last eight years.
North Korea’s apparent sixth nuclear test was estimated to have a yield of up to 100 kilotons, about four to five times stronger than the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945, the chief of the parliament’s defence committee said on Sunday.
Citing a report from the military authorities, Kim Young-woo said that the explosive power of the apparent nuke tested Sunday appeared to be much stronger than the North’s fifth one, estimated to have a yield of 10 kilotons. One kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT.
(URGENT) North Korean artificial quake 9.8 times more powerful than fifth nuclear test: Seoul weather agency https://t.co/RlelVLhVTv
Veteran foreign correspondent and North Korea expert Jean Lee is well worth following on Twitter for updates.
According to the Guardian’s Tokyo correspondent, Justin McCurry, an update from North Korea is expected in less than an hour.
North Korea will make an announcement later on Sunday, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. The regime is set to make a “special and important” announcement at 3pm Pyongyang time, the North’s state-run TV broadcaster said, but did not provide further details.
Wang Zhen from the Guardian’s Beijing bureau has been speaking to people near the border.
“I was having lunch in a restaurant when the lights just started shaking,” Zhang Zhiyuan, a journalist for the Chinese newspaper Yanji News, who lives and works near China’s border with North Korea, told Zhen.
John Delury is an associate professor of chinese studies and North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul in South Korea. He says the sixth nuclear test was “widely expected”.
6th nuke test is no surprise. Widely expected. McMaster & Pompeo both brought it up in their Sunday news shows few weeks back.
North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing an ICBM-ready H-bomb. Sixth nuclear test will probably happen!
The Japanese government has determined North Korea on Sunday conducted its sixth nuclear test, the country’s foreign minister, Taro Kono said, according to Kyodo news.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono: Gov’t has concluded North Korea conducted a nuclear test
North Korea’s nuclear tests have never posed a radiation risk to Japan before. If cave in, watch wind patterns. https://t.co/2VchJCzvLB
At a doorstop in Sydney, Australia, the deputy Labor leader, Tanya Plibersek, has called conflict on the Korean peninsula “the greatest threat to peace and stability in our region”.
“It is absolutely vital that we continue to see pressure from the international community to support peace and de-escalation of conflict on the Korean peninsula. Right across our region governments have been watching North Korea’s actions with a great deal of concern and trepidation.”
For those just joining us, it appears North Korea has just launched its biggest nuclear test to date at a test site in the north-east of the country. The suspected test comes hours after leader Kim Jong-un said his country had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb. The Guardian has just posted this backgrounder on how we got to this point:
Shinzō Abe, the prime minister of Japan, is responding to news of the suspected test
#BREAKING A North Korea nuclear test would be ‘absolutely unacceptable’, says Japan PM Abe
North Korea earthquake points to largest nuclear test
Here’s where the explosion occurred, based on information from the United States Geological Survey:
Japan has an aircraft up collecting air samples, monitoring radiation, reports NHK
Reuters has filed this take on the latest developments:
A shallow, 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook North Korea on Sunday, suggesting it had detonated a sixth nuclear device, hours after it said it had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb that possesses “great destructive power”.
The earthquake struck 75 km (45 miles) north/north-west of Kimchaek. Previous recent tremors in the region have been caused by nuclear tests, which if the case this time round, is bound to increase the tension hours after US president Donald Trump and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe talked by phone about the “escalating” nuclear crisis.
According to Reuters in China, China’s Earthquake Administration said it has detected another quake in North Korea of magnitude 4.6, which it termed as a “collapse”.
A statement on the administration’s website said the second quake, measured at a depth of zero kilometres, came eight minutes after the first quake, which it said was a “suspected explosion”.
China’s Earthquake Administration said on Sunday it detected a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in North Korea that was a “suspected explosion”. The administration said in a statement on its website that the quake, which occurred around 11:30 a.m. (0330 GMT), was recorded at a depth of zero kilometres.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency is quoting military officials as saying they believe North Korea has conducted its sixth nuclear test.
M 6.3 Explosion – 24km ENE of Sungjibaegam, North Korea – Possible explosion, located near the site where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the past. If this event was an explosion, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center cannot determine its type, whether nuclear or any other possible type
Wow — “6.3 is a megaton.” USGS saying this was a 6.3. That would be the level of a hugely powerful H-bomb. https://t.co/pVAuBApVv7
South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff say a magnitude-5.6 quake in North Korea was artificial and it’s analyzing whether the North conducted a nuclear test.
It says it detected a seismic wave from 12:34-12:36pm around Punggyeri, North Korea.
The quake came just hours after North Korea claimed that its leader has inspected the loading of a hydrogen bomb into a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
An update from the US Geological Survey:
Possible explosion, located near the site where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the past. If this event was an explosion, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center cannot determine its type, whether nuclear or any other possible type.
An earthquake of magnitude 5.6 has been recorded inside North Korea, hours after the regime boasted it had built a new, more advanced nuclear warhead.
The epicentre of the quake was considered shallow at 10km underground, according to the US Geological Survey.
Link : North Korea claims test of ‘missile-ready’ nuclear bomb – live