Obama calls NKorea nuke test ‘highly provocative’

U.S. intelligence officials say North Korea’s nuclear test yielded an explosion of “approximately several kilotons.”

In a statement Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said North Korea “probably conducted an underground nuclear explosion in the vicinity of P’unggye.” It said the explosion yield was “approximately several kilotons” and that analysis of the event is continuing.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it detected an estimated explosive yield of 6-7 kilotons.

The White House is calling North Korea’s latest nuclear test a “highly provocative act” that threatens U.S. security and international peace.

In a statement issued early Tuesday, President Barack Obama promises to “continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies.” He also urges “swift and credible action by the international community.”

North Korea says it successfully detonated a miniaturized nuclear device at a northeastern test site Tuesday, defying U.N. Security Council orders to shut down atomic activity or face more sanctions and international isolation.

Obama says such efforts “do not make North Korea more secure.” Instead, he says, North Korea has “increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.”

The U.N. Security Council is strongly condemning North Korea’s nuclear test and pledging further action.

A press statement approved by all 15 council members at an emergency meeting Tuesday morning says the test poses “a clear threat to international peace and security.”

The council points out that in a resolution it approved unanimously last month stepping up sanctions for North Korea’s missile test in December it promised to take “significant action” in the event of a new nuclear test.

“In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin work immediately on appropriate measures in a Security Council resolution,” the council says.

 Timeline of North Korea’s Nuclear Activities:

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test Tuesday, the latest step in a years-long effort to develop nuclear weapons. Experts believe the country remains far from having a nuclear-armed missile that could threaten the United States, which would require an accurate long-range rocket and a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on it. Here is a look at North Korea’s progress so far:

1998:

- Rocket Launch (August): This early launch gets the world’s attention, because it goes well beyond North Korea’s known capability. The rocket, which hurtles over Japan, has an estimated potential range of 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers), but accuracy is reportedly poor with no meaningful strike capability.

2006:

- Rocket Launch (July): A three-stage rocket with a potential range of 4,100 miles (6,700 kilometers) fizzles soon after liftoff, the U.S. and South Korea say. North Korea has never acknowledged the launch.

- Nuclear Test (October): North Korea detonates a nuclear device for the first time, but the yield is a very low 0.5 to 1 kiloton.

2009:

- Rocket Launch (April): This launch is a partial success, with two of the three stages pushing the rocket out over the Pacific. The third stage fails, and, despite North Korea’s claims of success, no satellite is put into orbit, the U.S. says. The rocket dubbed Unha-2 represents a significant advancement over previous rockets, according to experts.

- Nuclear Test (May): Second detonation of a nuclear device is a partial success with a larger yield of 2 to 6 kilotons, but still below the 10 kilotons that experts consider a successful blast.

2012-13:

- Rocket Launch (April 2012): Launch of Unha-3 rocket, with a potential range of 6,200 miles (10,000 km), ends in embarrassing failure, splintering into pieces over the Yellow Sea soon after takeoff. Hours later, the country acknowledges the satellite failed to enter orbit in an announcement on state TV.

- Rocket Launch (December 2012): This time, the rocket succeeds in launching a satellite into space. Its range, though questioned by some experts, in theory puts the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii, Australia and eastern Europe within striking distance.

- Nuclear Test (February 2013): North Korea says it detonates a miniaturized nuclear device. If true, this would be an advance, as North Korea needs to master the technology to make a nuclear device small enough to mount on a missile. Early estimates put the yield at 6 to 7 kilotons, but that has yet to be confirmed.

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