North Korea early on Tuesday conducted a widely anticipated nuclear test amid rising diplomatic tension over the Communist country’s nuclear capabilities and growing apprehension about peace in the Korean Peninsula.
“The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on Tuesday that it has successfully conducted a third nuclear test to safeguard national security against U.S. hostile policy, the official (North Korean) KCNA news agency reported,” the state-run Xinhua said in a report in the afternoon.
The nuclear test was carried out with simultaneous statements from capital Pyongyang that the isolated and poor country will continue launching powerful long-range rockets.
The KCNA said a statement that the test – the third nuclear test after 2006 and 2009 -- was part of the country's "practical measures of counteraction" to defend its security and sovereignty against hostile US policies, which it claimed have violated DPRK's “rights to launch satellite for peaceful purposes.”
Interestingly, the statement added that test was carried out on a “smaller and light A-bomb unlike previous ones yet with great explosive power.”
It remains for experts to decipher that as smaller and lighter bomb, how easy it could be to transport the device.
Close ally China’s reaction was framed in angry language.
“The Chinese government in firmly opposed to this act,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said in a statement, adding that it was in “disregard of the common opposition of the international community.”
“We strongly urge the DPRK to honor its commitment to denuclearization and refrain from any move that may further worsen the situation,” China said.
It added: “Chinese Government calls on all parties to respond in a cool-headed manner and persist in resolving the issue of denuclearisation of the Peninsula through dialogue and consultation within the context of the Six-Party Talks.
Denuclearising the Korean Peninsula, preventing nuclear proliferation and safeguarding peace and stability in Northeast
Asia is the firm stand of the Chinese side, the statement said.
Earlier in the day, unnatural seismic activity was recorded from a remote nuclear test site in North Korea by seismology authorities, including from China, around the world.
“China's seismology authority measured the temblor at 4.9 magnitude, with a depth of "zero" km. According to Yonhap (a news agency), the earthquake was detected at 11:57 local time (0257 GMT) in the DPRK's Kilju County, North Hamkyung Province, where a nuclear test site is located,” Xinhua reported..
According to the report, the DPRK had notified the United States and China of its nuclear test plan a day earlier.
On the continuing missile launched, KCNA said in a statement: “A decision adopted Monday by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) "stressed the need to continue launching satellites of Kwangmyongsong series and powerful long-range rockets.”
Last week, reports in the Chinese media said a secret envoy sent by North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un visited to Beijing with a mission to "figure out the feelings of the Chinese leadership" and "gauge the level of possible sanctions by the US and South Korea" if the North carries out a third nuclear test.
“If North Korea really conducts a third nuclear test, China will be dragged into a great dilemma," Su Hao, director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times last week.”
Su told the newspaper China will “certainly criticise the North, but at the same time, it has to strive to prevent the UN from imposing overly harsh sanctions on Pyongyang, as they would not only destabilise Pyongyang but also harm Beijing's interests.”
“Most of the time the whips for North Korea actually fall on the back of China," the main trade partner and provider of economic aid of the North,” he said.