North Korea on Monday claimed it has performed a successful nuclear test, according to that country’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
South Korean government officials also said North Korea performed its first nuclear test, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.
The apparent nuclear test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (0136 GMT) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, Yonhap reported, citing defense officials.
“The field of scientific research in the DPRK (North Korea’s official name) successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9 … at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation,” KCNA reported.
Late Sunday in Washington, the U.S. military told CNN it believed the report to be true, but was working to fully confirm it.
Senior U.S. officials said they also believed the test took place.
MSNBC has the KCNA announcment:
“The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.
“It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as 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 and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability.
“It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.”
The South Koreans are scrambling:
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun called up an emergency security meeting just before the North’s announcement.
The South Korean intelligence had reported to the president that 3.58 magnitude seismic tremor was detected from Hwadaeri near Gilju at 10:36 a,m.
I’m bracing for a completely underwhelming response on our part. With events like this, Iran’s behavior, and the situation in Iraq it’s difficult to see our position as anything but weakening. It will be interesting to see what happens in South Korea, Taiwan, and especially Japan. Further militarization of our allies in the region seems inevitable but that will seriously threaten China. To call this act destabilizing is an understatement.
Reviewing the Chronicle’s report it appears that Donald Rumsfeld and I are in agreement:
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday that a successful North Korean nuclear weapon test would show weakness on the part of the international community.
“And that failure … is something that the international community would have to register and ask itself how comfortable are we being that ineffective in this situation,” Rumsfeld said.
However, the real problem for us (if we fail to act decisively) is that the bad guys will read this as primarily American weakness.
The International Herald Tribune looks at possible next steps:
LONG-TERM: Other Asian nations, including Japan or South Korea, may seek their own atomic weapons as a safeguard against a nuclear-armed North Korea, possibly triggering a wider arms race that threatens regional stability.
Additional economic sanctions against North Korea may further weaken an already poor and isolated nation.
The risk of nuclear proliferation increases with an impoverished North Korea possible selling nuclear technology to terrorists or other countries.
North Korean Media
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)