According to sources in South Korea, Kim and North Korea have conducted its sixth nuclear test which was discovered after detecting a rather strong earthquake near their primary nuclear testing site. Hours before, Pyongyang stated that Kim inspected a hydrogen bomb intended for implementation for a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
South Korea’s weather agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff said an artificial 5.7 magnitude quake occurred at 12:29 p.m. local time, in Kilju, northern Hamgyong province, the site where North Korea has conducted nuclear tests in the past. Seoul officials revised their earlier estimate of 5.6 magnitude quake. The U.S. Geological Survey called the first quake an explosion with a magnitude 6.3.
The U.S. State Department had no immediate reaction. South Korea’s presidential office said it will hold a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in. South Korea’s military said it has strengthened its monitoring and readiness while mulling a variety of possible responses that could be executed in collaboration with the U.S.
Japan confirmed that North Korea conducted a nuclear test, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said. “It is absolutely unacceptable if North Korea did force another nuclear test, and we must protest strongly,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
China’s earthquake administration detected a second tremor of magnitude 4.6 in North Korea minutes after the first. It described the event as a cave-in. South Korea’s weather agency, however, said no second quake occurred.
North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year, the last nearly a year ago, on the Sept. 9 anniversary of the nation’s founding. It has since maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including its first two intercontinental ballistic missiles test in July. Last month, North Korea fired a potentially nuclear-capable midrange missile over northern Japan.
Earlier Sunday, photos released by the North Korean government showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that was apparently the purported thermonuclear weapon destined for an ICBM. What appeared to be the nose cone of a missile could also be seen near the alleged bomb in one picture, which could not be independently verified and was taken without outside journalists present. Another photo showed a diagram on the wall behind Kim of a bomb mounted inside a cone.