- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2016

North Korea announced early Wednesday that it had conducted a hydrogen-bomb test, making the surprise proclamation just hours after an earthquake was detected in North Korea by multiple international seismic organizations.

North Korea made its “special” announcement on state TV at 12:30 p.m. local time Wednesday, or 10:30 p.m. EST Tuesday in the U.S., prompting immediate denunciations and countermeasures from South Korea, which technically remains in a state of war with its rival, and the prospect of a rising war of words at the United Nations, or more.

“The first H-bomb test was successfully conducted in the DPRK at 10:00 on Wednesday, Juche 105 (2016), pursuant to the strategic determination of” the ruling communist party, the official Korea Central News Agency bragged, using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name.

The test was “conducted with indigenous wisdom, technology and efforts” and showed “that the technological specifications of the newly developed H-bomb for the purpose of test were accurate and scientifically verified the power of smaller H-bomb.”

Dictator Kim Jong-un said last month that the North had developed hydrogen bombs, but the claim was met with skepticism.

Pyongyang is believed to have a handful of crude nuclear weapons, but further testing would aid efforts to build a reliable arsenal.

In addition, a hydrogen-bomb, which uses an earlier atomic explosion to create a new chain reaction and a far more powerful blast, would be a major leap forward in the communist dictatorship’s capabilities.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, President Park Gyeung-he was presiding over an emergency meeting of the country’s National Security Council on Wednesday afternoon. South Korea also announced stepped-up military readiness and surveillance.

At the NSC meeting, South Korea’s vice foreign minister Lim Sung-nam called the test a violation of Security Council resolutions and “a serious challenge to international peace and security.”

South Korean officials vowed to “cooperate with regional partners to make N. Korea pay a price for hydrogen bomb test,” Yonhap reported.

Previous North Korean nuclear and missile tests have resulted in denunciations and sanctions at the United Nations, and further such actions are likely. Other past confrontations have resulted in fatal artillery exchanges across the world’s most-militarized border, assassinations and kidnappings worldwide, and naval gunfire exchanges.

North Korea’s only ally, China, quickly signaled through its official Xinhua News Agency that it was not happy.

“China has always pushed for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintaining that all relevant parties should refrain from unilateral moves detrimental to regional peace and stability,” Xinhua stated at the conclusion of its report on the test.

Any binding sanctions or resolutions from the the U.N. would need at least tacit approval from China, one of the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council.

According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, cited by Yonhap, North Korea did not inform China of the test.

Also Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also vowed “strong action” against North Korea at the U.N. and through other venues, calling the test a threat to Japan’s security.

“We absolutely cannot allow this, and condemn it strongly,” he told reporters in Tokyo.

North Korea’s announcement came hours after an earthquake was detected in the country’s northeast.

Multiple news agencies had said the quake took place 30 miles northwest of Kilju, placing the quake next to Punggye-ri, the site of North Korea’s only known nuclear test site and the location of all three previous tests.

South Korean officials, upon detecting the earthquake, quickly determined that it was an artificial quake. Korea is located on a part of the Eurasian Plate far away from the known major fault lines and thus does not typically see major seismic activity.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Center and the U.S. Geological Center both said on their websites that the seismic activity had a magnitude of 5.1, though Xinhua put the quake’s strength at just 4.9.

The last successful North Korean nuclear test, in 2013, produced a seismic event of a magnitude of 5.1.

The KCNA statement was garlanded in the agency’s typically boastful and flowery language. It began:

“There took place a world startling event to be specially recorded in the national history spanning 5 000 years in the exciting period when all service personnel and people of the DPRK are making a giant stride, performing eye-catching miracles and exploits day by day after turning out as one in the all-out charge to bring earlier the final victory of the revolutionary cause of Juche, true to the militant appeal of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).”

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