North Korea Holds Nuclear Test

by Patrick Brennan

And its most powerful to date. Per the BBC:

North Korea has carried out its third, most powerful nuclear test despite UN warnings, and said “even stronger” action might follow.

It described the test as a “self-defensive measure” necessitated by the “continued hostility” of the US. Its main ally, China, criticised the test, which was condemned worldwide.

Nuclear test monitors in Vienna say the underground explosion had double the force of the 2009 test, despite reportedly involving a smaller device.

If, as North Korea reports, a smaller device was tested successfully, analysts say this could take Pyongyang closer to building a warhead small enough to arm a missile.

The UN Security Council will meet at 14:00 GMT to discuss the test and its ramifications, diplomats say.

North Korea announced last month that it would conduct a third nuclear test following those in 2006 and 2009 as a response to UN sanctions that were expanded after the secretive communist state’s December rocket launch, a move condemned by the UN as a banned test of missile technology.

Activity had been observed at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site for several months. . . . 

North Korea said the nuclear test – which comes just before US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address – was a response to the “reckless hostility of the United States”.

This afternoon, the Senate Armed Services Committee will vote to confirm as secretary of defense former senator Chuck Hagel, who has long endorsed engagement with North Korea, as did his fellow former senator Barack Obama.

In Hagel’s 2008 book, he explained that “Kim Jong Il’s government is a genuinely rogue regime whose nuclear ambitions and capacity for mischief have been more or less contained, though imperfectly, through the United Nations and a mature diplomatic structure that includes the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea. Patience and diplomacy, not saber rattling, has — for now — pulled North Korea back from the brink of a nuclear arms race.” I’m not really sure what doubling the power of your previous nuclear test and claiming you’ve done so with a missile-sized warhead is other than . . . one side of a nuclear arms race.

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