SEOUL – North Korea has said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on its newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), producing a greater yield than any of its previous nuclear tests.
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The hydrogen bomb test ordered by leader Kim Jong-un was a “perfect success” and was a “meaningful” step in completing the country’s nuclear weapons programme, according to state television.
The announcement came hours after a large earthquake that appeared to be man-made was detected near the North’s known nuclear test site, indicating that the reclusive country had conducted its sixth nuclear test since 2006.
The tremor struck within a kilometre of the site of a magnitude-5.3 “nuclear explosion” from September last year, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
South Korea said this most recent test appeared to be several times stronger than its previous test, estimating the nuclear blast yield was between 50 to 60 kilotons — or five to six times stronger than the North Korea’s fifth test a year ago.
It is bound to increase the tension hours after United States President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked by phone about the “escalating” nuclear crisis.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said they had examined the data from the tremors and “concluded that it was a nuclear test”, while Mr Abe said Japan was speaking to other nations.
“I have already instructed the related ministries to collect and analyse intelligence, to give people of Japan informed appropriately, as well as to liaise with the related nations such as the US, South Korea, China and Russia,” he said.
“It is absolutely unacceptable if North Korea did force another nuclear test, and we must protest strongly.- News Agencies