In a stunning announcement that seemed to take the world off guard, North Korean claimed on Wednesday that it had ‘successfully’ tested a hydrogen bomb.
The test, which has yet to be confirmed, was condemned around the world, including from Pyongyang’s ally, China.
A explosion was measured as a 5.1 magnitude earthquake by the United States Geological Survey with the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, reporting that the nuclear test was ordered by the country’s leader Kim Jong Un. The dramatic announcement read on State TV said it took place at at 10 a.m. local time.
The statement on KCNA, made a by a television anchor, said “the republic’s first hydrogen bomb test has been successfully performed at 10:00 am on January 6, 2016.” A handheld note, claimed to have been written by Kim, was displayed on television. “Let the world look up to the strong, self-reliant nuclear-armed state,” Kim reportedly wrote.
North Korea’s claim that it had tested a hydrogen bomb, which would be its forth nuclear test since 2006, was met with skepticism from international governments, including by Washington. The White House said that initial analysis of the nuclear test was not consistent with North Korea’s claims that it conducted a successful hydrogen test.
The United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session on Wednesday to discuss the announcement from North Korea. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the test and called it “profoundly destabilizing for regional security”.
South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye called the news a “provocation”, saying it was a “direct challenge to world peace and stability.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the news.
“The Chinese government firmly opposes this nuclear test by North Korea. We surely will summon North Korean senior officials and the ambassador to lodge our solemn protest,” Spokesman Hua Chunying said.
It could take up to several weeks to confirm whether in fact the test was that of a hydrogen bomb.
North Korean had previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Each test produced seismic activity, ranging from 4.3 to 5.1 on the Richter scale.