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North Korea conducts new nuclear test with most powerful weapon yet

Ted Ballantine

China, Russia, US among countries condemning the test

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test Tuesday and said the missile that was tested had “greater explosive force” than any the country had tested before. The actions violated international sanctions and drew condemnation from global superpowers, such as Russia, China and the United States.

BBC first reported seismic activity in North Korea early Tuesday morning, which was initially thought to indicate a shallow earthquake. The quake was later determined to be man-made in origin and a result of nuclear testing.

The test took place early Tuesday morning and was the third such test in North Korea’s history; the previous two took place in 2006 and 2009. There are several estimates regarding the power of the weapon, but all analysts seem to agree that North Korea is gradually testing more dangerous devices.

The pentagon’s top intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., said in a statement Tuesday that he believes North Korea is making progress with its nuclear program. He estimated the explosion yield of the newly tested device to be several kilotons, which is notably greater than the weapon tested by North Korea in 2006, which clocked in at less than one kiloton. For reference, the nuclear device dropped on Hiroshima by the US during World War II had an explosion yield of 15 kilotons.

The South Korean Defense Ministry released its own estimate, which placed the explosive yield of the weapon between six and seven kilotons.

The Korean Central News Agency (KNCA), North Korea’s state media outlet, confirmed the test in a statement released Tuesday.

“It was confirmed that the nuclear test that was carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment,” KCNA said.

North Korea indicated that the tests wouldn’t be the last.

“This nuclear test was our preliminary measure, for which we exercised our most restraint. If the U.S. continues to be hostile until the end and complicates affairs, we cannot but consecutively take high-level secondary and third measures,” North Korea said in a statement released Tuesday.

The test, as expected, drew international criticism. President Obama released a statement calling the test a “highly provocative act”.

Even China, a close ally of North Korea, voiced its disapproval.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in spite of the international community’s widespread opposition, once again carried out a nuclear test. The Chinese government expresses firm opposition.”

The United Nations Security Council immediately schedules an emergency meeting to take place at 9 a.m. EST in New York.

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