World leaders slam North Korea's '1st H-bomb test'
NORTH Korea claimed yesterday it has succeeded in conducting a miniaturised hydrogen bomb test, hours after what seemed to be an artificial earthquake was detected close to the country's nuclear test site in north-east North Hamgyong Province.
Chinese living close to the borders of North Korea were evacuated from buildings after feeling tremors from the explosion, China's state media reported.
The "special" announcement aired on the North's Korean Central Television said the test was conducted at 10am local time, reported South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
"If there's no invasion on our sovereignty, we will not use (the) nuclear weapon," said the announcement, adding that the test has brought the North to a higher level of nuclear prowess.
The programme also showed a copy of leader Kim Jung Un's signed authorisation for the test dated Dec 15.
However, the claim immediately drew scepticism, with experts pointing out that the test's yield of 6,000 tonnes of TNT and the 5.1-magnitude seismic wave it triggered were close to what were recorded in the North's previous nuclear test in 2013.
The yield fell short of the destructive power of a hydrogen bomb, which would equal to at least 50,000 tonnes of TNT, according to Li Bin, a senior associate focused on nuclear policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"It's more like an ordinary atomic bomb test, not a hydrogen bomb," Bloomberg quoted Mr Li as saying.
A hydrogen bomb - also known as a thermonuclear bomb - is hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima in 1945.
The South Korean military, however, do not rule out the possibility that the North had tested a boosted nuclear fission weapon as a step towards building a bona fide hydrogen bomb, which derives its energy through the fusion of atoms, reported the South's YTN news channel.
The nuclear bomb test was the second since Mr Kim came to power four years ago.
It drew condemnations from Japan, the United States and the European Union, while South Korean President Park Geun Hye called for a strong international response ahead of an emergency meeting by the United Nations Security Council.
China also responded, saying volatility on the Korean peninsula is "not in anyone's interest".
According to the South's Chosun Ilbo, Mr Kim had spoken about the impending test on Dec 10, two days before the all-female Morabong Band, a music group which he patronises, was pulled back from Beijing.
The Hong Kong media suggested Mr Kim was upset that China was sending only low-level officials to the performances as a show of displeasure for the coming bomb test.