North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons programme in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on September 3, 2017.(Reuters file photo)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons programme in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on September 3, 2017.(Reuters file photo)

North Korea detonates its sixth and most powerful nuclear test yet

The apparent test came just hours after North Korea claimed that its leader has inspected the loading of a hydrogen bomb into a new intercontinental ballistic missile.
By Reuters | Reuters, Seoul
UPDATED ON SEP 03, 2017 12:27 PM IST

North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday, Japan and South Korea said, hours after Pyongyang said it had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb that possesses “great destructive power”.

Japanese and South Korean meteorological officials said an earthquake detected near the North’s test site -- measured by the US Geological Survey (USGS) at magnitude 6.3 -- was around 10 times more powerful than previous detonations.

North Korea said it would make an important announcement at 0630 GMT.

The move is a direct challenge to US President Donald Trump, who hours earlier had talked by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about the “escalating” nuclear crisis in the region.

Japan immediately raised the prospect of further sanctions against the isolated North, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga saying that curbs on its oil trade would be on the table.

A US official who studies North Korea’s military and politics said that seismic data on the tremors was being analysed, although the location suggested another nuclear test.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was too early to determine if a test, if there was one, supported the North’s claim that has succeeded in developing a thermonuclear weapon, “much less one that could be mounted on an ICBM and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere without burning up”.

The hydrogen bomb report by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency comes amid heightened regional tension following Pyongyang’s two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in July that potentially could fly about 10,000 km, putting many parts of the mainland United States within range.

Under third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been pursuing a nuclear device small and light enough to fit on a long-range ballistic missile, without affecting its range and making it capable of surviving re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

One expert said the size of Sunday’s detonation meant it was possible it could be a hydrogen bomb test.

“The power is 10 or 20 times or even more than previous ones,” said Kune Y Suh, a nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University. “That scale is to the level where anyone can say a hydrogen bomb test.”

Air raid sirens

Witnesses in the Chinese city of Yanji, on the border with North Korea, said they felt a tremor that lasted roughly 10 seconds, followed by an aftershock. China said it had detected a second, 4.6 magnitude quake with near identical coordinates eight minutes later.

“I was eating brunch just over the border here in Yanji when we felt the whole building shake,” Michael Spavor, director of the Paektu Cultural Exchange, which promotes business and cultural ties with North Korea. “It lasted for about five seconds. The city air raid sirens started going off.”

South Korea’s military said the first earthquake “appeared to be manmade”. A meeting of Seoul’s National Security Council has been convened, national news agency Yonhap reported.

Japan said it had concluded there was a nuclear test.

“North Korea’s mission is quite clear when it comes to this latest atomic test: to develop a nuclear arsenal that can strike all of Asia and the US homeland,” Harry Kazianis, director of defence studies at the conservative Center for the National Interest in Washington, said.

“This test is just another step towards such a goal. None of us should be shocked by Pyongyang’s latest actions.”

Earthquakes triggered by North Korean nuclear tests have gradually increased in magnitude since Pyongyang’s first test in 2006, indicating the isolated country is steadily improving the destructive power of its nuclear technology.

After the fifth nuclear test in September, USGS measured a magnitude of 5.3, while South Korean monitors said the blast caused a 5.0 magnitude earthquake.

North Korea, which carries out its nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions, “recently succeeded” in making a more advanced hydrogen bomb that will be loaded on to an ICBM, KCNA said.

“The H-bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens kiloton to hundreds kiloton, is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power,” KCNA said.

“All components of the H-bomb were homemade and all the processes ... were put on the Juche basis, thus enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons as many as it wants,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Juche is North Korea’s homegrown ideology of self-reliance that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather. It says its weapons programmes are needed to counter US aggression.

North Korea offered no evidence for its latest claim, and Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul, was sceptical.

“Referring to tens to hundreds of kilotons, it doesn’t appear to be talking about a fully fledged H-bomb. It’s more likely a boosted nuclear device,” Kim said, referring to an atomic bomb which uses some hydrogen isotopes to boost explosive yield.

A hydrogen bomb can achieve thousands of kilotons of explosive yield - massively more powerful than some 10 to 15 kilotons that North Korea’s last nuclear test in September was estimated to have produced, similar to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

Hourglass-shaped device

Kim Jong Un, who visited the country’s nuclear weapons institute, “watched an H-bomb to be loaded into new ICBM” and “set forth tasks to be fulfilled in the research into nukes,” KCNA said.

Pictures released by the agency showed Kim inspecting a silver-coloured, hourglass-shaped warhead in the visit accompanied by nuclear scientists.

The shape shows a marked difference from pictures of the ball-shaped device North Korea released in March last year, and appears to indicate the appearance of a two-stage thermonuclear weapon, or a hydrogen bomb, said Lee Choon-geun, senior research fellow at state-run Science and Technology Policy Institute.

“The pictures show a more complete form of a possible hydrogen bomb, with a primary fission bomb and a secondary fusion stage connected together in an hourglass shape,” Lee said.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high since last month when North Korea threatened to launch missiles into the sea near the strategically located US Pacific territory of Guam after Trump said Pyongyang would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States.

North Korea further raised regional tensions on Tuesday by launching an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, drawing international condemnation.

Trump and Abe spoke by phone and said that in face of an “escalating” situation with North Korea that close cooperation between their countries and with South Korea was needed, Abe told reporters.

The United States has repeatedly urged China, the North’s sole major ally, to do more to rein in its neighbour.

Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the United States.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Vaccinations were also taking place at centres within industrial areas connected to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.(AFP Photo. Representative image)
Vaccinations were also taking place at centres within industrial areas connected to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.(AFP Photo. Representative image)

Israel's vaccination of Palestinians holding work permits ramps up

AFP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:33 PM IST
A pilot programme involving 700 Palestinian West Bank residents began on Thursday. The Israeli military branch responsible for civil affairs in Palestinian territories, COGAT, said the main campaign involving an estimated 100,000 Palestinians would begin this week.
Close
FILE PHOTO: French deputy Olivier Dassault attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo(REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: French deputy Olivier Dassault attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo(REUTERS)

French aviation industrialist Olivier Dassault killed in helicopter crash

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:02 PM IST
The French national air accident investigation agency, the BEA, said the Airbus AS350 helicopter crashed just after takeoff from a private airfield.
Close
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 12, 2021 a healthcare worker fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the university hospital in Halle/Saale, eastern Germany. - Germany's vaccine commission has now recommended the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine against Covid-19 for people over the age of 65, the health ministry said Wednesday.
Germany had previously said it lacked sufficient data to greenlight the jab for older people, but has changed its position following recent studies. (Photo by JENS SCHLUETER / AFP)(AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 12, 2021 a healthcare worker fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the university hospital in Halle/Saale, eastern Germany. - Germany's vaccine commission has now recommended the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine against Covid-19 for people over the age of 65, the health ministry said Wednesday. Germany had previously said it lacked sufficient data to greenlight the jab for older people, but has changed its position following recent studies. (Photo by JENS SCHLUETER / AFP)(AFP)

Germany plans aggressive Covid-19 vaccine rollout after slow start

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:48 PM IST
In April, May and June, vaccination centers and doctors will have to handle millions of doses every week, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said.
Close
China’s launch means that one-fifth of global emissions will now fall under a tax or trading scheme, according to Citi. At the same time, the pressure to cut emissions is likely to be inflationary and could leave Chinese factories more expensive relative to countries without controls, the bank said.(Representative Photo)
China’s launch means that one-fifth of global emissions will now fall under a tax or trading scheme, according to Citi. At the same time, the pressure to cut emissions is likely to be inflationary and could leave Chinese factories more expensive relative to countries without controls, the bank said.(Representative Photo)

China's carbon market to grow 30-fold by 2030, says Citigroup

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:35 PM IST
The market’s physical turnover will rise from about $800 million this year, its first in operation, to around $25 billion by the end of the decade, analysts including Tracy Liao said in a March 8 note.
Close
People queue up at a community vaccination centre to receive a dose of the Sinovac Biotech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Hong Kong, China. (REUTERS)
People queue up at a community vaccination centre to receive a dose of the Sinovac Biotech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, in Hong Kong, China. (REUTERS)

Hong Kong to vaccinate teachers, cab drivers despite reports of adverse events

Reuters, Hong Kong
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:35 PM IST
At least two people have died and several fallen seriously ill after receiving a vaccination by China's Sinovac.
Close
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on March 8, 2021, following her return from Beijing where she attended the opening of the National People's Congress last week. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)(AFP)
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on March 8, 2021, following her return from Beijing where she attended the opening of the National People's Congress last week. (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)(AFP)

Hong Kong's chief executive ''fully welcomes'' proposed electoral changes

Posted by Harshit Sabarwal | AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:33 PM IST
Chinese authorities have said the draft decision before China's National People's Congress would mean the largely pro-Beijing committee that elects Hong Kong's leader would also choose a large part of the legislature to ensure that the city is run by “patriots.”
Close
In a statement, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said when women have equal access to opportunity, everyone can benefit from their perspectives, creativity and their expertise. (Representative Image)(REUTERS)
In a statement, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said when women have equal access to opportunity, everyone can benefit from their perspectives, creativity and their expertise. (Representative Image)(REUTERS)

Google to provide $25 million to social enterprises working on women empowerment

PTI
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:29 PM IST
The company, which has committed support one million rural women entrepreneurs in India, also stated that its Internet Saathi digital literacy training programme has benefitted over 30 million women across the country.
Close
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in this undated handout photo. Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Handout via REUTERS(VIA REUTERS)
Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in this undated handout photo. Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Handout via REUTERS(VIA REUTERS)

Suicide, racism and Queen: Revelations from Meghan, Harry's Oprah interview

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Arpan Rai, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 02:44 PM IST
The interview with Winfrey was the couple’s first since they stepped down from royal duties and the two-hour special included numerous revelations likely to reverberate on both sides of the Atlantic.
Close
Harry and Meghan interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. (Reuters)
Harry and Meghan interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. (Reuters)

British minister says on Meghan interview: 'No place for racism in our society'

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:13 PM IST
  • Meghan, the wife of Prince Harry, accused Britain's royal family of raising concerns about how dark their son's skin might be and pushing her to the brink of suicide, in a tell-all television interview that will send shockwaves through the monarchy.
Close
Harry and Meghan are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in this undated hand-out photo. (REUTERS)
Harry and Meghan are interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in this undated hand-out photo. (REUTERS)

Meghan, Harry say UK royals were worried ‘how dark’ their son Archie would be

By Yashwant Raj I Edited by Nadim Siraj
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:06 PM IST
In another revelation that underlines the former royal couple’s estranged relationship with Buckingham Palace, Harry and Meghan said they were financially cut off by the UK royal family
Close
With Biden now cruising to his first legislative victory less than two months after proposing his relief bill, economists have baked its effects into their forecasts for a stronger recovery in 2021.(AP Photo)
With Biden now cruising to his first legislative victory less than two months after proposing his relief bill, economists have baked its effects into their forecasts for a stronger recovery in 2021.(AP Photo)

Joe Biden’s giant stimulus to easily pass House, say Democrats

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:04 PM IST
Progressive House Democrats are already turning their attention to getting their proposals in a second budget reconciliation bill -- which allows for Senate approval by a simple majority.
Close
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, while speaking during a news conference in Hong Kong, China.(Bloomberg)
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, while speaking during a news conference in Hong Kong, China.(Bloomberg)

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam 'fully welcomes' proposed electoral changes

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 01:04 PM IST
  • Chinese authorities have said the draft decision before China's National People’s Congress would mean the largely pro-Beijing committee that elects Hong Kong’s leader would also choose a large part of the legislature to ensure that the city is run by “patriots.”
Close
A doctor looks at the vial before receiving a vaccine, as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam,(Reuters)
A doctor looks at the vial before receiving a vaccine, as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam,(Reuters)

Vietnam vaccinates Covid-19 front-liners with its 1st doses

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:58 PM IST
  • The Southeast Asian nation of 96 million people has a goal to inoculate at least half of the population by the end of the year.
Close
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern(Reuters)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern(Reuters)

Royal interview unlikely to affect New Zealand

AP, Wellington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:58 PM IST
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked by a reporter whether the unflattering picture of the British royal family painted by Harry and Meghan had given her pause about New Zealand's constitutional ties to Britain.
Close
Pope Francis boards a plane upon concluding his visit to Iraq at Baghdad airport, Iraq, Monday, March 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)(AP)
Pope Francis boards a plane upon concluding his visit to Iraq at Baghdad airport, Iraq, Monday, March 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)(AP)

Pope leaves Iraq for Rome after historic whirlwind visit

AP
PUBLISHED ON MAR 08, 2021 12:41 PM IST
As the pope's plane took off, Iraqi President Barham Salih was at hand on the tarmac, waving goodbye.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP