North Korea on Sunday said it had conducted a sixth nuclear test — larger than the previous five — setting off massive tremors and drawing swift condemnation from world leaders.
The rogue nation called the test of a thermonuclear hydrogen-based bomb a “perfect success.” Though officials have not yet determined the strength of the blast, the resulting earthquake reportedly shook buildings in China and in Russia.
The test was carried out at 12:29 p.m. local time at the Punggye-ri site where North Korea has conducted nearly all of its past nuclear tests, the Associated Press reported. Officials in Seoul put the magnitude at 5.7, while the U.S. Geological Survey said it was a magnitude 6.3.
North Korea said the test was for an ICBM warhead, adding that “the creditability of the operation of the nuclear warhead is fully guaranteed.”
“North Korea’s state-run television broadcast a special bulletin Sunday afternoon to announce the test. It said leader Kim Jong Un attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order,” the AP reported. “Earlier in the day, the party’s newspaper ran a front-page story showing photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto the nose of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea in July test-launched two ICBMs that are believed to be capable of reaching the mainland United States. That would be a major step forward for Pyongyang, which says its missile development is part of a defensive effort to build a viable nuclear deterrent that can target U.S. cities.
The U.S. State Department had no immediate reaction.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the Chinese government has “expressed firm opposition and strong condemnation.” It urged North Korea to “stop taking erroneous actions that deteriorate the situation.”
South Korea held a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in. National Security Director Chung Eui-yong said Moon will seek every available measure, including new U.N. sanctions or the deployment of more U.S. military assets, to further isolate Pyongyang.