Updates: North Korea Conducts Third Nuclear Test

U.S. monitoring agency says that a magnitude 4.9 earthquake has been detected in North Korea, signaling a possible nuclear test.

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Lee Jin-man / AP

A South Korean watches news about a possible nuclear test conducted by North Korea on a TV at Seoul train station on Tuesday, Feb. 12.


Feb. 12, 6:30 a.m. — North Korea has responded to the global condemnation to its nuclear test by threatening “second and third measures of greater intensity” if the U.S. maintains its hostility, according to the AP.

Feb. 12, 6:00 a.m. — President Barack Obama called the test a “highly provocative act” that “undermines regional stability,” USA Today reports. The White House released the statement early Tuesday, noting that North Korea’s nuclear program constitutes “a threat to U.S. national security.” Read the full text, here.

Feb. 12, 5:11 a.m. — NATO says North Korean nuclear test is a grave threat to the world, Reuters reports.

“This irresponsible act, along with the December missile launch, poses a grave threat to international and regional peace, security and stability,” the North Atlantic Council, made up of NATO ambassadors, said.

Feb. 12, 4:35 a.m. — Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released a statement on North Korea’s nuclear test.

…This nuclear test by North Korea is totally unacceptable, as it constitutes a grave threat to Japan’s security, represents a grave challenge to the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime centered on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) , and seriously undermines the peace and security of Northeast Asia as well as the international community when taken together with its enhancement of its ballistic missile capability which could serve as the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. This nuclear test is a clear violation of relevant UNSCRs [United Nations Security Council Resolutions].

Read the full text, here.

Feb. 12, 4:17 a.m. — Iran calls for destruction of all nuclear weapons, reports Agence France-Presse. [tweet https://twitter.com/AFP/status/301257614707269632%5D

Feb. 12, 3:55 a.m. — South Korean president-elect Park Geun-hye says her administration will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North, notes Agence France-Presse .

“North Korea’s nuclear test is a grave threat to the Korean Peninsula and international peace, hampers inter-Korean trust-building and undermines efforts for peace,” Park says.

Feb. 12, 3:33 a.m. — China’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it strongly opposes North Korea’s nuclear test, Reuters reports.

“It is China’s firm stance to realize non-nuclearization for the Korean peninsula and prevent nuclear proliferation and maintain peace and stability in northeast Asia.”

Feb. 12, 2:05 a.m. — The Korean Central News Agency reports that North Korea succeeded in its third underground nuclear test.

“The test was carried out as part of practical measures of counteraction to defend the country’s security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S. which wantonly violated the DPRK’s legitimate right to launch satellite for peaceful purposes.”

The announcement was also made on North Korean TV:


Feb. 12, 1:58 a.m. — President Obama says North Korea nuclear test is “highly provocative act,” Reuters reports. [tweet https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/301223344898990080%5D

Feb. 12, 1:53 a.m. — Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General condemns North Korea’s nuclear test.

Feb. 12, 00:57 a.m. — North Korea claims ‘successful’ third nuclear test.

Feb. 12, 00:49 a.m. — South Korean president-elect Park Geun-hye condemns reported North Korea nuclear test.  [tweet https://twitter.com/YonhapNews/status/301206055105482752%5D

Feb 12, 00:40 a.m. — South Korea has now confirmed that North Korea conducted a nuclear test [tweet https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/301203782887424000%5D

Feb. 12, 00:26 a.m. — Japan may consider further sanctions on North Korea, Reuters reports.

“I have ordered that we consider every possible way to address this issue, including our own sanctions, while cooperating with other countries,” Abe told reporters after a meeting of Japan’s security council.” —Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Feb. 12, 00:15 a.m. — “If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act would constitute a clear threat to international peace and security, and challenges efforts made to strengthen global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, in particular by ending nuclear testing,” Tibor Tóth, the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, tells the Associated Press. Full story, here.

Feb. 12, 00:05 a.m. — Our colleagues at CNN provide some background on underground nuclear testing:

Tests are typically conducted in vertical shafts, according to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO). Holes are cut 1 to 3 meters wide and up to a kilometer deep. The atomic devices are assembled on site and placed in the hole, usually accompanied by lead-protected diagnostic canister that contains sensors to record the explosion. The tunnel is then filled with layers of pea gravel, sand and other materials to prevent radioactive material from being released into the atmosphere.

During a test, the explosion energy is released in less than a millionth of a second, according to CTBTO. The temperature will reach about a million degrees within a few microseconds, and shockwaves from the blast, depending on the size, can be detected by seismographs around the planet.

Read the full story, here.

Feb. 11 11:38, p.m. —  South Korea has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, reports Reuters [tweet https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/301185737200644098]

Feb. 11, 11:19 p.m. — Citing a South Korean defense official, Reuters reports that the seismic activity could be from a nuclear blast [tweet https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/301181475972325376%5D

Feb. 11, 11:10 p.m. — [tweet https://twitter.com/ReutersIndia/status/301176944584699905%5D

Feb. 11, 10:54 p.m. —  An analyst in Seoul tells the Associated Press a nuclear detonation was a “high possibility.”

Feb. 11, 10:46 p.m — United States Geological Service pinpoints the location of seismic activity in North Korea

Feb. 11, 10:30 p.m — U.S. monitoring agency says that a magnitude 4.9 earthquake has been detected in North Korea, reports the Associated Press.

—With reporting from Kristene Quan, Charlie Campbell, Yue Wang and Glen Levy