North Korea appears to conduct sixth nuclear test

North Korea appears to conduct sixth nuclear test

The blast, which officials said appeared to be the most powerful yet, raised the stakes after weeks of saber rattling and heightened tensions as the North showed alarming progress in its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon that could target the US mainland.

"For months North Korea refrained from conducting a nuclear test and from launching missiles over Japan" said David Wright, the co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program.

"After analyzing data provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Japanese government concluded that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test", Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in a live television broadcast.

North Korea's state television said it would carry an important announcement at 0630 GMT, after an natural disaster registering magnitude 6.3 was detected near its known nuclear test site on Sunday.

South Korean experts said that the explosion was ten times more powerful than the previous test which was carried out a year ago.

Veteran North Korea state news anchor Ri Chun Hee hailed the test as a "perfect success" and the final step in attaining a "state nuclear force".

It also posed a major test for President Donald Trump, who has bounced between warning he would meet threats from the North with "fire and fury" and urging a diplomatic solution.

South Korea's Joint Chief of Staff said all South Korean troops have been put on high alert, with the North scheduled to commemorate its founding anniversary later this week, reports Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea in July conducted its first ever ICBM tests, part of a stunning jump in progress for the country's nuclear and missile program since Kim rose to power. That claim couldn't immediately be confirmed.

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The report said 14 of 20 industrial sectors saw growth in June. "We're of the opinion that the customer is still spending, " Ms. It's more than double the pace of the first three months of 2017 and better than original estimates for the second quarter.

Just before the test, according to state media, Kim and the other senior leaders at the party presidium meeting discussed "detailed ways and measures for containing the USA and other hostile forces' vicious moves for sanctions".

Juche is North Korea's homegrown ruling go-it-alone ideology that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather. Guam is a major sore point for Pyongyang because it is a US military hub and home to a squadron of B-1B bombers, which the North fears could be used to attack their country.

"The Nuclear Weapons Research Institute has recently achieved a higher level of research and production of nuclear weapons", in accordance with the country's strategic plan of nuclear weaponization, KCNA said.

It is seeking to develop a nuclear weapon small enough to be mounted on an ICBM.

If the current magnitude holds, it's possible that the weapon tested Sunday was a thermonuclear device, but it's impossible to say if it was the peanut-shaped object shown in the images released by North Korean state media, says Hanham.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate reaction. A key question is how far North Korea has gotten in efforts to consistently shrink down nuclear warheads so they can fit on long-range missiles. Possibly it'll be a fly by and how is North Korea going to respond to that?

After suggesting that North Korea's leader "is starting to respect us", Trump on Wednesday returned to his tougher line.

The country tested two nuclear weapons previous year, including one in September close to the country's Foundation Day holiday. Last week, it flew a missile over Japan, prompting global condemnation and a "show of force" in the Korean Peninsula by the United States and its allies. The statement did not say whether the conversation came before or after the North's latest claim. Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.

The two Koreas have shared the world's most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

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