Just hours after news ran in the headlines that a suspicious earthquake could indicate a third nuclear test in North Korea, Pyongyang has officially confirmed an underground explosion of a 'miniaturized' nuclear device.
"The nuclear test was conducted as part of measures to protect our national security and sovereignty against the reckless hostility of the United Sates that violated our republic's right for a peaceful satellite launch," the official state media, Korean Central News Agency said.
Monitors in the U.S., Japan and Seoul had earlier detected a suspicious quake of 4.9 magnitude just one kilometre below the surface in Kilju county where the Punggye-ri test site is situated.
This test comes weeks after North's threat to carry out nuclear test aimed at building a nuclear capacity for an "all-out action of high intensity" against the U.S. and its allies.
This is the first test under the new leadership of Kim Jong Un and a clear indication that he is determined to meet head-on with United States and its allies rather than reaching a negotiation with them over the satellite launch, which invited stern reactions from the U.S.
Even before the confirmation was broadcast by the Korean state media, the U.N. Security Council called for an emergency meeting that is scheduled for 9 a.m. New York time.
Japan has already considered more sanctions against North Korea and has called for a "stern" response, the Washington Post has reported.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the test just hours after the news was confirmed. Earlier, the Obama administration had decided to take additional action against the nation in case of further tests, while the fact remains that there are not many sanctions left to be imposed against the highly ambitious North.
Reacting against the sanctions imposed by the U.N. last month following a Dec.12 rocket launch, North Korea said that it was planning to conduct a high level nuclear test in January. Japan, South Korea and the U.S. had warned Pyongyang to refrain from the test. Even North Korea's closest ally, China had urged the former not to go ahead with the planned test.
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