Date
11 December 2017
North Koreans watch a news report showing the nation’s latest nuclear test on an electronic screen in Pyongyang on Sunday. Credit: Kyodo/via Reuters
North Koreans watch a news report showing the nation’s latest nuclear test on an electronic screen in Pyongyang on Sunday. Credit: Kyodo/via Reuters

N Korea tests hydrogen bomb; UN Security Council to meet

North Korea on Sunday conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, claiming that it was of an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile.

In a televised announcement, it said the hydrogen bomb test had been ordered by top leader Kim Jong-un and that the underground explosion was a “perfect success”.

The bomb was designed to be mounted on the nation’s newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Reuters cited Pyongyang as saying.

The test had registered with international seismic agencies as a man-made earthquake.

Japanese and South Korean officials were quoted as saying that the tremor was about 10 times more powerful than the one picked up after North Korea’s last nuclear test a year ago.

The latest test prompted alarm and angry reactions from Washington, which warned of a “massive” military response if the US or its allies were threatened.

“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming,” US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said after a meeting with President Donald Trump and his national security team.

Trump earlier in the day refused to rule out military action and threatened to cut off trade with any country doing business with Pyongyang.

Asked while leaving a church service whether the US would attack North Korea, Trump replied: “We’ll see.”

Early Monday in Seoul, South Korea’s military confirmed it had carried out missile drills in response to the North’s nuclear test.

Despite the tough talk, the immediate focus of the international response was expected to be on tougher economic sanctions against Pyongyang, Reuters noted.

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the nuclear test.

Diplomats have said the council could now consider banning Pyongyang’s textile exports and the country’s national airline, stop supplies of oil to the government and military, prevent North Koreans from working abroad and add top officials to a blacklist to subject them to an asset freeze and travel ban.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday that he would put together a package of new sanctions to potentially cut off all trade with North Korea.

After weeks of profound tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program, the size and scope of the latest test set off a new round of diplomatic handwringing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met on the sidelines of a BRICS summit in China, agreed to “appropriately deal” with North Korea’s nuclear test, Xinhua news agency reported.

China said it strongly condemned the nuclear test and urged Pyongyang to stop its “wrong” actions.

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RC

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