- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 24, 2009

BREAKING NEWS:

SEOUL — North Korea announced Monday that it successfully carried out an underground nuclear test, weeks after threatening to restart its rogue atomic program.

The country’s official Korean Central News Agency called Monday’s test “part of measures to bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense.”

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency security session. His spokesman, Lee Dong-kwan, confirmed that a nuclear test may have been carried out in the North.

Seismologists from the United States, South Korea and Japan reported earthquakes in an northeastern area, where North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2006.

A 4.7-magnitude earthquake was registered in northeastern North Korea at 9:54 a.m. Korean time, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake, measured at a depth of six miles underground, occurred 40 miles northwest of the city of Kimchaek, the USGS said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency also said it detected seismic activity Monday morning. “We are checking whether they were due to a nuclear test,” agency official Gen Aoki said in Tokyo.

In Seoul, the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources reported a 4.5-magnitude quake in Kilju in North Hamgyong Province.

North Korea also carried out a nuclear test in October 2006 in Kilju, a test that drew sanctions from the United Nations and prompted five other nations to push negotiations on a nuclear disablement-for-aid pact with North Korea.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Andy Laine said the U.S. government had no confirmation of a new nuclear test.

“At this point we’ve seen the reports and we’re trying to get more information, but we’re not able to confirm at this time,” Mr. Laine said.

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