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UN to prepare measures against North Korea over detonation of 'hydrogen bomb'

Meanwhile, the US says evidence is ‘not consistent’ with the bomb claim.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un
North Korea leader Kim Jong Un
Image: AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File

Updated at 6.40pm

THE UN SECURITY Council has agreed to prepare further unspecified measures against North Korea after it carried out a fourth nuclear test.

The news comes as the US says evidence is ‘not consistent’ with the North Korea’s H-bomb claim.

The 15-member UN council including China, Pyongyang’s ally, “strongly condemned” the test and described it as a “clear threat to international peace and security.”

Uruguay’s Ambassador Elbio Rosselli, this month’s council president, recalled that the council had threatened to take “further significant measures” if Pyongyang violated UN resolutions by testing an atomic device.

Rosselli said:

In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin to work immediately on such measures in a new Security Council resolution.

The envoy did not specify whether the new measure would extend sanctions against North Korea, but other diplomats confirmed that adding new names to the sanctions list was being considered.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the underground nuclear test “deeply troubling” and “profoundly destabilising for regional security.”

The claim – if true – massively raises the stakes over the hermit state’s banned nuclear programme.

H-bomb test

North Korean state television announced that the bomb test was successfully performed at 10am (3.30am Irish time).

“With the perfect success of our historic H-bomb, we have joined the rank of advanced nuclear states,” it said, adding that the test was of a miniaturised device.

A hydrogen, or thermonuclear bomb, uses fusion in a chain reaction that results in a far more powerful explosion than the fission blast generated by uranium or plutonium alone.

Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un suggested Pyongyang had already developed a hydrogen bomb.

The claim was questioned by international experts and there was continued scepticism over today’s test announcement.

Scepticism over H-bomb 

“The seismic data that’s been received indicates that the explosion is probably significantly below what one would expect from an H-bomb test,” said Australian nuclear policy and arms control specialist Crispin Rovere.

“So initially it seems to be that they’ve successfully conducted a nuclear test but unsuccessfully completed the second-stage hydrogen explosion,” Rovere said.

Bruce Bennett, a senior defence analyst with the Rand Corporation, was equally unconvinced.

“This weapon was probably the size of the US Hiroshima bomb but this was not a hydrogen bomb,” Bennett told the BBC.

“The bang they should have gotten would have been 10 times greater than what they got,” he added.

The test, which came just two days before Kim Jong-Un’s birthday, was initially detected by international seismology centres as a 5.1-magnitude tremor next to the North’s main Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the northeast of the country.

Most experts had assumed Pyongyang was years from developing a thermonuclear bomb, while assessments were divided on how far it had gone in mastering the technology to miniaturise a warhead so that it fits on a ballistic missile.

Whether an H-bomb or not, it was North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and marked a striking act of defiance that flew in the face of enemies and allies alike who have warned Pyongyang it would pay a steep price for moving forward with its nuclear weapons programme.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Mystery surrounds death of top North Korean aide in car crash

Also: Canadian pastor sentenced to life in prison in North Korea

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