North Korea shakes world with hydrogen bomb
SEOUL - Agence France-PresseNorth Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile on Sept. 2 and called its sixth and most powerful nuclear test a “perfect success,” sparking world condemnation and promises of tougher U.S. sanctions.
Pyongyang residents threw their arms aloft in triumph as a jubilant television newsreader hailed the “unprecedentedly large” blast.
It “marked a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force”, she added.
But world reaction was swift and angry. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter Pyongyang’s “words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States”.
The U.S. leader refrained from direct threats but branded the North “a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success”.
South Korea, Trump added, “is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”
The U.S. Treasury Department will prepare a package of sanctions that would “cut off North Korea economically”, said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Hours before the test the North had released images of leader Kim Jong-Un at the Nuclear Weapons Institute, inspecting what it said was a miniaturised H-bomb that could be fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
China, the North’s sole remaining major ally, issued a “strong condemnation” of the test, which overshadowed the opening of the BRICS summit in Xiamen by leader Xi Jinping.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described it as “absolutely unacceptable” while Russia’s foreign ministry expressed “strongest condemnation” but urged calm.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief said that the test represents a “major provocation” and “a grave threat to regional and international security.”
Federica Mogherini also said in a statement that Pyongyang “must abandon its nuclear, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and immediately cease all related activities.”
Mogherini said she will meet on Sept. 4 with Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to discuss North Korea.
Amano also said the test is of “grave concern.” He urged Pyongyang to heed U.N. demands to stop such testing and mothball its nuclear program, adding that the IAEA “continues to closely follow developments.”
NATO’s secretary-general, meanwhile, has strongly condemned the test, calling it “yet another flagrant violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Jens Stoltenberg also said in a statement that “NATO is concerned by Pyongyang’s destabilizing pattern of behavior, which poses a threat to regional and international security.”
He called on North Korea to “immediately cease all existing nuclear and ballistic missile activities in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, and re-engage in dialogue with the international community.”
French President Emmanuel Macron called on the international community to react firmly to this “new provocation.”
In Seoul, President Moon Jae-In called for new United Nations sanctions to “completely isolate North Korea” and said the South would discuss deploying “the strongest strategic assets of the U.S. military.”
The U.S. and South Korean military chiefs spoke by telephone and agreed the test was “a provocation that cannot be overlooked,” Seoul’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The chairmen of the joint chiefs of staff, General Jeong Kyeong-Doo and General Joseph Dunford, “agreed to prepare a South Korea-U.S. military counteraction and to put it into action at the earliest date.”
U.S. monitors measured a 6.3-magnitude tremor near the North’s main testing site, which South Korean experts said was five to six times stronger than that from the 10-kiloton test carried out a year ago.
The tremor was felt in northeastern China, with people in the border city of Yanji saying they fled their homes in their underwear, and in the Russian Pacific city of Vladivostok. It was even detected as far away as Germany.
Chinese monitors said they had detected a second tremor shortly afterwards of 4.6 magnitude that could be due to a “collapse (cave in)”, suggesting the rock over the underground blast had given way.
Pyongyang triggered a new rise in tensions in July, when it carried out two successful tests of an ICBM which apparently brought much of the US mainland within range.
Last week it fired a missile over Japan.
Trump has warned Pyongyang that it faces “fire and fury” and that Washington’s weapons are “locked and loaded.”
Pictures of Kim at the Nuclear Weapons Institute showed the young leader, dressed in a black suit, examining a metal casing with a shape akin to a peanut shell.
The device was a “thermonuclear weapon with super explosive power made by our own efforts and technology”, the Korean Central News Agency cited Kim as saying, and “all components of the H-bomb were 100 percent domestically made”
Despite its power there were no radioactive leaks from the test, KCNA said in a later report.