North Korea announced it has successfully conducted an underground test of a nuclear bomb early Wednesday, the third for the rogue Communist nation.
Pyongyang confirmed suspicions that a test happened after the U.S. Geological Survey detected a 4.9-magnitude tremor at 11:58 a.m. local time, in a mountainous region of North Korea believed to house its nuclear weapons program.
The blast was slightly larger than the 4.1- and 4.5 magnitudes of previous nuclear tests done in the same area back in 2006 and 2009, indicating North Korea has improved its capabilities.
The test was on a “miniaturized” weapon, South Korea officials said. This development particularly worries analysts, who believe a smaller yet more powerful bomb could be mounted on an intercontinental missile.
North Korea sent a long-range rocket into orbit two months ago. Although the country hailed it as a success, American officials claim the missile lost control when it reached upper orbit.
A propaganda video was released by North Korea on February 5. The short animated film depicted a young North Korean man’s dream of a unified Korea and an American city in flames.
Japanese officials had warned the United States that a third nuclear test could be done on Monday, reports the Washington Post. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cut short a meeting to address parliament, warning the country to “be prepared for the unforeseen.”
Outgoing South Koran president, Lee Moon Bak, called an emergency meeting of his cabinet to discuss the incident. The country remains on high alert.
U.S President Barack Obama called the test “highly provocative” in statement released early Tuesday. He promised to “continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies” and urged “swift and credible action by the international community.”