September 04, 2017 09:27
North Korea on Sunday said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile. The official Central TV said the test of the "two-stage thermonuclear weapon" was a "complete success."
South Korean analysis of tremors said the bomb was five to six times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, and U.S., Chinese and Russian assessments suggest the blast was strong enough to level Seoul.
Chun Young-woo, a former presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, said, "It appears that the process of miniaturizing a nuclear weapon to mount on a ballistic missile has been completed."
The nuclear test, the regime's sixth, was carried out underground at the North's test site in remote Pungye-ri, North Hamgyong Province near the Chinese border.
Data collected after the test suggest it is not bluffing. The Korea Meteorological Administration here detected an earthquake of 5.7 on the Richter scale and the U.S. Geological Survey a 6.3 tremor. North Korea appears to have detonated a nuclear weapon that was at least 59 to 100 kilotons in strength.
The last time North Korea conducted a nuclear test was in September of 2016.
Just six hours before the latest test, KCNA showed Kim touring a nuclear institute and touching a metallic object labeled "Hwasong-14 nuclear warhead (hydrogen bomb)."
Experts said all that the North has left to do now is to perfect its intercontinental ballistic missile technology to make them capable of striking Washington or New York.
Last month, President Moon Jae-in said North Korea would be crossing the "red line" if it put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile. That point seems to have been reached. On Sunday, Moon called Sunday's test an "absurd mistake" that will accelerate the North Korean regime's international isolation. He urged Pyongyang to suspend its nuclear program, saying, "It must learn that nukes and missiles can't guarantee its survival and development."
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff warned North Korea they are ready to "take military measures at the earliest possible date." The military here said it conducted live-fire exercises of Hyunmu ballistic missile and F-15K fighter jets on Monday in response to the nuclear test.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis sent a strong warning to North Korea. "We are not looking to the total annihilation of... North Korea, but as I said we have many options to do so," he said. Mattis added any threat to the U.S. or its allies "will be met with a massive military response."
China's foreign ministry said in a statement North 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."
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