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North Korea conducts N-test

Seoul, October 9
North Korea boasted today it performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test, saying it detonated a successful underground blast in a “great leap forward” that defied international warnings against the communist regime.

The reported nuclear test sparked worldwide condemnation and concerns it could seriously destabilise the region, with even Pyongyang’s ally China strongly opposing the move. The USA called for immediate UN Security Council action, and along with Japan was expected to press for more sanctions on the impoverished North.

The North’s official Korea Central News Agency said the underground test was performed successfully “with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent,” and that no radiation leaked from that test site.

“It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the (Korean People’s Army) and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defence capability,” CNA said, adding that it was “a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation.”

If the test is confirmed, North Korea would be the ninth country known to have nuclear weapons, along with the USA, Russia, France, China, Britain, India, Pakistan and Israel.

A nuclear North Korea would dramatically alter the strategic balance of power in the Pacific region and seriously underline global anti-proliferation efforts.

Australia and South Korea said there was seismic confirmation that pointed to a nuclear test, and a top Russian military officer confirmed the device tested was a nuclear weapon, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. However, Japan and the USA said they couldn’t immediately confirm a test.

South Korea’s seismic monitoring centre said a magnitude 3.6 tremor felt at the time of alleged North Korea nuclear test wasn’t a natural occurrence. The size of the tremor could indicate an explosive equivalent to 550 tons of TNT, said Park hang-soo, spokesman at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources - which would be far smaller than the nuclear bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan in World War II.

The atomic bomb that struck Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945, had the destructive power of about 15,000 tons (33 million pounds) of TNT.

The US Geological Survey said it recorded a seismic event with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2 in northeastern North Korea coinciding with the test claim, but survey official Bruce Presgrave said the agency was unable to tell if it was an atomic explosion or a natural earthquake.

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