North Korea Conducts First Nuclear Test

DPRK's nuclear test site

Defying worldwide appeals and threats of sanctions, Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK) has announced it had carried out its first nuclear weapons test, calling it a "historic event."

The  state's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the underground test was carried out safely and successfully and there was no radiation leak.

A Republic of Korean defence ministry official quoted by Yonhap news agency said the test was carried out at Hwadaeri near Kilju on DPRK's  Korea's northeast coast at 10:36 am (0136 GMT).

There was no immediate official confirmation in the South of the test. But the presidential office said the state intelligence agency had detected a 3.58 magnitude seismic tremor in North Hamgyong Province, where Kilju is located.

China condemned Pyongyang for "brazenly" carrying out the test.

The test took place around the time Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Seoul for talks on handling the nuclear crisis and just three days after a UN Security Council statement was issued against DPRK.

The council unanimously adopted a non-binding statement that urged the North to drop plans for a test and to return to six-party disarmament talks.

"We detected the explosive sound from Hwadaeri near Kilju in North Hamgyong Province at 10:36 am," Yonhap quoted the defense ministry official as saying.

"The intelligence was immediately reported to President Roh Moo-hyun," Roh's spokesman Yoon Tae-Young said. "Related countries are in consultation on the issue."

Roh immediately called an emergency ministerial meeting to discuss countermeasures.

The White House believes the test was carried out, the Fox News television network reported, quoting a senior US government official.

The test is believed to have been conducted in a horizontal tunnel, a lawmaker quoted intelligence officials as saying.

The officials told parliament it appeared to have been conducted in a 360-meter-high (1,188 feet) mountain northwest of its Musudanri missile base in Hwadaeri, according to lawmaker Chung Hyong-Keun.

He quoted an intelligence official as saying: "In consideration of the height of the montain, the test appeared to have been done in a horizontal tunnel."

KCNA issued a brief statement announcing the test, saying: "The field of scientific research in the DPRK  successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9..."

"It has been confirmed that there was no such danger of radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under scientific consideration and careful calculation.

"The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology, 100 percent.

"It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA (DPRK's army) and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defence capability.

"It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it."

A RoK's expert told AFP there was "a massive explosion with a tremor of 3.58 to 3.7."

Chi Heon-chul, of the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, said the tremor originated at Kilju.

No excessive radioactivity was detected in RoK after DPRKannounced it had successfully carried out an underground nuclear test on Monday, experts said.

The military raised its vigilance along the border with DPRK, officials said.

"A crisis task force was activated, with our troops ordered to raise their vigilance and watch DPRK's movements," an official with the joint chiefs of staff told AFP.

Abe said he would work together with RoK to consider their response to DPRK's reported nuclear test.

"I am going to meet RoK's Prime Minister Han Myeong-Sook now," said Abe, who will also meet Roh later in the day. "I want to coordinate with the RoK's side about our future response."

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