North Korea said it conducted a second underground nuclear test “successfully” Monday, about a month after it threatened to resume nuclear and missile testing to protest the UN condemnation of its April 5 rocket launch.
On the same day, the North also test-fired three short-range surface-to-air missiles from a military base near a site where the nuclear test was presumed to have been conducted, South Korea’s presidential office said.
Immediately after the test was confirmed, the government said it agreed with Japan to ask the U.N. Security Council to deal more sternly with the Stalinist regime and was also talking with China and Russia, the North’s allies, to prepare countermeasures. Cheong Wa Dae issued a statement to denounce the experiment while President Lee Myung-bak ordered the military to strengthen defense readiness at an emergency security meeting.
Pyongyang didn’t say where the test was conducted, but the South’s geological agency said it detected an earthquake measuring magnitude 4.5 at 9:54 a.m. Monday at the North’s northeastern village of Punggye-ri where the first test took place in October 2006.
Intelligence sources said an earthquake with a 3.8 magnitude was reported in 2006, but this time the explosion was stronger, indicating the North’s nuclear technology has advanced despite international denuclearization efforts. Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee, however, told at a hastily convened hearing of Defense Committee lawmakers that it was early to call Pyongyang a “nuclear power.”