Reclusive state bordering Russian Far East claims to have 'joined the ranks of advanced nuclear states'.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Picture: VostockPhoto/Newscom/Yonhap News
The hydrogen bomb test was strongly denounced today by Russian officials amid scepticism over Pyongyang's claims about its boasts. 'Russia condemns these tests as it is a clear violation of international law,' said Vladimir Voronkov, permanent representative to the UN in Vienna.
This followed an earthquake occurred in South Korea, prompting Seoul's claims that Pyongyang had performed a nuclear test. North Korea subsequently confirmed that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
Concern was high in Russia because of the proximity of major Russian population centres to the hermit state.
'The North Korean nuclear programme is implemented by a state that shares the border with Russia,' said Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the international affairs committee in the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament.
'The distance from Pyongyang to Vladivostok is less than 700 kilometres. And any activity of the DPRK in this direction directly affects national security of our country.'
'With the perfect success of our historic H-bomb, we have joined the ranks of advanced nuclear states.' Picture: Channel 1
If information about a nuclear test by North Korea proved to be true, it meant 'yet another violation' of the spirit of the CTBT by Pyongyang'.
North Korea's central television claimed on Wednesday morning that Pyongyang had conducted a successful test of a thermonuclear bomb. 'The republic's first hydrogen bomb test has been successfully performed at 10:00 am,' said the announcement. 'With the perfect success of our historic H-bomb, we have joined the ranks of advanced nuclear states.'
The broadcast showed North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's signed order - dated 15 December - to go ahead with the test, and a handwritten exhortation to begin 2016 with the 'thrilling sound of the first hydrogen bomb explosion'. The authoritarian state previously conducted three nuclear tests in 2006, in 2009 and in 2013, prompting UN sanctions.
China, which is seen as a diplomatic protector, said it 'firmly opposes' Pyongyang's nuclear test carried out 'irrespective of the international community's opposition'. 'We strongly urge the DPRK side to remain committed to its denuclearisation commitment, and stop taking any actions that would make the situation worse,' said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
This followed an earthquake occurred in South Korea, prompting Seoul's claims that Pyongyang had performed a nuclear test. Picture: Channel 1
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye condemned the test as a 'grave provocation' and called for a strong international response as the UN Security Council. America said it was still studying the precise nature of the apparent test and vowed to 'respond appropriately'. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it a 'serious threat' and a 'grave challenge' to nuclear non-proliferation efforts.
There were international doubts - echoed in Russia - about the scale of the test. 'The seismic data that's been received indicates that the explosion is probably significantly below what one would expect from an H-bomb test,' said Australian nuclear policy and arms control specialist Crispin Rovere.
Bruce Bennett, a senior defence analyst with the Rand Corporation, said if it was an H-bomb that was tested, then the detonation clearly failed - at least the fusion stage. 'If it were a real H-bomb, the Richter scale reading should have been about a hundred times more powerful,' he told AFP.
'The North Korean nuclear programme is implemented by a state that shares the border with Russia.' Pictures: YTN
Russian Emergency Ministry officials insisted today that there was no evidence of increased radioactivity in the Far East. A Khabarovsk official said: 'There was no increase in the background radiation in the Far East, including the Primorsky Krai (region) which borders North Korea.'
There were also reports in Siberia of the people who felt the force of the North Korean blast.
Svetlana Kazina, prominent Altai photographer who lives in village Uznezya, some 5,800 kilometres from North Korea, said: 'I am very sensitive even to smallest earth movements and usually wake up during numerous little earthquakes that hit our mountains, specially at night. Today's earth vibration was unlike anything I had felt before - it was long and constant.
'I remember thinking this did not feel like a natural earthquake. I just now heard that North Korea tested a hydrogen bomb early in the morning of 6 January. If this is true, poor planet Earth.'
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