North Korea confirms 'successful' hydrogen bomb test after earthquake report
The New Zealand Government has called North Korea's claimed nuclear test "provocative and irresponsible".
On Wednesday North Korea confirmed it conducted a "successful" hydrogen bomb test, according to Agence France-Presse.
The test was contrary to recent efforts to open dialogue between the north and South Korea and was against UN Security Council resolutions, New Zealand duty minister Sam Lotu-liga said.
"New Zealand views North Korea's actions as highly provocative and irresponsible," he said.
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"The New Zealand government strongly urges North Korea to cease its provocative behaviour and commit to not developing, testing or possessing nuclear weapons."
The Security Council would meet on Thursday morning, New Zealand time, to discuss the test and the flouting of its resolution which demanded North Korea not conduct any further tests, Lotu-liga said
Meanwhile The Daily Mail has reported that South Korean President Park Geun-hye has ordered her military to bolster its combined defense posture with U.S. forces, calling the test a 'grave provocation' and 'an act that threatens our lives and future.'
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: 'We absolutely cannot allow this.'
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond described the test as a 'provocation' and a 'grave' breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions, the report said.
Hammond wrote on Twitter: 'If North Korean H-bomb test reports are true, it is a grave breach of UNSC (UN Security Council) resolutions and a provocation which I condemn without reservation'.
The White House said it could not confirm North Korea's claims, but added the United States would respond appropriately to provocations and defend its allies, the report said.
If North Korean H-bomb test reports are true, it is a grave breach of #UNSC resolutions & a provocation which I condemn without reservation— Philip Hammond (@PHammondMP) January 6, 2016
In a statement on Wednesday, North Korea said that it would continue to strengthen its nuclear program in order to protect itself against the hostile policies of the United States.
It said the test was conducted "pursuant to the strategic determination of the Workers' Party of Korea".
The Korean Central News Agency said North Korea would not not give up its nuclear program as long as the US maintained what it called "its stance of aggression".
North Korea had "fully proved 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", the statement said.
It also said North Korea will act as a responsible nuclear state and vowed not to use its nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty was infringed. It also said it will not transfer its nuclear capabilities to other parties.
This is North Korea's fourth nuclear test, a set back for US and Chinese efforts to convince leader Kim Jong Un to restart disarmament talks.
Full North Korea government statement on claimed hydrogen bomb test pic.twitter.com/fXW0irsTyw— Jon Passantino (@passantino) January 6, 2016
Kim Jong-un's regime in Pyongyang detonated a hydrogen device at the Punggye-ri underground test site in the far northeast, its official Korean Central News Agency said.
The explosion was first detected as a magnitude 5.1 earthquake by the US Geological Survey.
The test is the second since Kim Jong-un became supreme leader and began consolidating power through a series of purges and provocations against South Korea.
Kim has rebuffed US and Chinese efforts to restart talks and has expanded the country's nuclear arsenal that he says is the best defense against a US invasion.
A 5.1-magnitude earthquake was detected 19 kilometres from North Korea's Sungjibaegam nuclear test site at a depth of 10 km, according to the US Geological Survey.
While the cause of the quake was not known, a 4.9-magnitude earthquake in a similar location was recorded before North Korea's third nuclear test in 2013 at the site..
The South Korean Meteorological agency confirmed the quake was man-made.
North Korea may be preparing to test thermonuclear weapons capabilities at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, Yonhap News reported earlier this month.
North Korea conducted a test-launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine last month after a similar attempt was said to have failed in November, the Free Beacon reported, citing unidentified US defence officials.
The launch was carried out December 21 near the eastern port of Sinpo, the Washington-based website said. South Korea confirmed the test but said it appeared to have failed, Yonhap News reported, citing an unidentified South Korean military official.
A successful launch would indicate that the isolated nation's underwater missile program hasn't been derailed, and an operational system could provide Pyongyang with a new option to launch an attack against enemies such as the U.S. One US official was reported by Free Beacon as saying that Kim Jong Un's government could be as little as a year away being able to fire missiles from a submarine.
The US and South Korea approved a plan to deal with North Korean missiles carrying atomic and biochemical warheads after North Korea made a threat in September to use nuclear weapons against the US.
Japan is also considering deployment of the US's Thaad ballistic missile defense system to counter any potential strike from North Korea.
South Korea estimates that North Korea has 2500 tons to 5000 tons of chemical weapons.
North Korea also possesses an arsenal of missiles that it says can strike the US.
The country conducted its third nuclear test in 2013 and threatened last year to conduct a fourth one. US defence officials have questioned whether North Korea is capable of putting a nuclear warhead onto a missile.
The Pyongyang regime could be preparing to test thermonuclear weapon capabilities at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and may also be producing tritium, a radioactive isotope necessary to build more sophisticated nuclear weapons, Yonhap News reported this month.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry has called an emergency meeting following the earthquake. It said it was "highly likely" the quake was a nuclear test.
- Bloomberg and Reuters