North Korea says it has successfully carried out its 5th nuclear test.
The announcement on state media came hours after a seismal event was detected near its nuclear test website.
South Korea believes it is the North’s largest ever test, raising fears the state has made real nuclear advances.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye referred to it an act of “self-destruction” showing the “maniacal recklessness” of leader Kim Jong-un. The US warned of “serious implications”.
China’s foreign ministry said Beijing was decisively opposed to the test and urged North Korea to avoid any action that might worsen the situation.
The North said the test had been of a “new nuclear warhead” and that it was now capable of mounting a nuclear device on ballistic rockets.
South Korea’s military has advised that the explosive yield of this blast might be nearly twice that of the previous nuclear test. Analysts have expressed concern this could mean the North could be a step closer to having a useable nuclear weapon.
Ms Park, who is restraining an overseas visit, said the test was a “grave challenge” to the international community that would “only gain a lot of isolation and sanctions” for North Korea.
“Such provocation can further accelerate its path to self-destruction,” she added.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe said his country “absolutely cannot condone” any such test and would “protest unshakably” to Pyongyang.
“North Korea’s nuclear development is turning into a graver threat to Japan’s safety and severely mar the peace and safety of the region and also the international community,” he said.
The US White House said President Barack Obama had spoken to both Mr Abe and Ms Park after the most recent test.
President Obama had “reiterated the unbreakable United States commitment to the protection of our allies in Asia and round the world”. Josh Earnest, press secretary said
“The president indicated he would continue to consult our partners and allies in the days ahead to make sure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences.”
“Today, North Korea once more conducted a nuclear test despite widespread international opposition; the Chinese government strongly opposes the test.” China’s foreign ministry statement reads
SOURCE: BBC News