North Korea carried out its third nuclear test on Tuesday, saying that it was in response to so-called threats from the United States. The move drew condemnation from the international community, namely the U.S. and South Korea.
“The test was carried out as part of practical measures of counteraction to defend the country’s security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S., which wantonly violated [North Korea’s] legitimate right to launch satellite for peaceful purposes,” said the Korean Central News Agency, a state-run mouthpiece.
It said that the underground test, which reportedly generated powerful seismic waves, was carried out “in a safe and perfect way” with a “light A-bomb unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power” and had no “adverse effect to the surrounding ecological environment.”
The state-run news agency said that the nuclear test would bolster the morale of both the army and people of North Korea—an isolated, impoverished, and communist nation that has been racked by famine and economic hardship throughout its history.
The test comes just two months after Pyongyang successfully launched a long-range rocket that sent a satellite into orbit. The rocket launch also drew international condemnation and prompted sanctions in January from the United Nations Security Council, which said it was a thinly disguised attempt to test a long-range ballistic missile.
President Barack Obama described the test as a “highly provocative act” that threatens security in the region, and violates “North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions.”
“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security,” Obama added. “The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region.”
North Korea previously tested nuclear devices in 2006 and in 2009, also triggering international condemnation and sanctions from the U.N. Security Council.
The test was carried out at around 11:57 a.m. on Tuesday, setting off a magnitude-4.9 tremor in northeastern North Korea, the Korea Meteorological Administration said, according to the South Korea-based Yonhap News Agency.
South Korea’s defense ministry told Yonhap that the detonation was the result of a six to seven kiloton atomic blast—relatively small in comparison with tests carried out by the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the middle of the 20th century. A kiloton is equivalent to around 1,000 tons of TNT.
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