(TOKYO) — North Korea says it has successfully tested a miniaturized nuclear device Tuesday, according to state media.
A large tremor measured at magnitude 4.9 was detected North Korea by the U.S. Geological Survey and governments in the region scrambled to determine whether it was an earthquake or a nuclear test that the North Korean regime has vowed to carry out despite international protests.
The latter has apparently turned out to be true.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization told ABC News, “We confirm that a suspicious seismic event has taken place in North Korea.”
“The event shows clear explosion-like characteristics and its location is roughly congruent with the 2006 and 2009 DPRK (North Korea) nuclear tests,” said Tibor Toth, executive secretary of the organization
Official state media said the test was conducted in a safe manner and is aimed at coping with “outrageous” U.S. hostility that “violently” undermines the North’s peaceful, sovereign rights to launch satellites. Unlike previous tests, North Korea used a powerful explosive nuclear bomb that is smaller and lighter, state media reported.
President Obama called the test “a highly provocative act” in a statement Tuesday morning.
“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies,”Obama said.
“The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region,” he added.
The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on North Korea’s nuclear test later Tuesday morning.
North Korea threatened in January to carry out a “higher-level” test following the successful Dec. 12 launch of a long range rocket. At the time, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un said his country’s weapons tests were specifically targeting the United States.
The suspicious tremor comes just hours before President Obama is to give the State of the Union address, and it marks the first diplomatic test in the region for new Secretary of State John Kerry.
Also, South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, is scheduled to be sworn in on Feb. 25. One of North Korea’s biggest holidays, Kim Jong-il’s birthday, falls on Feb. 16.
China, North Korea’s main ally in the region, has warned North Korea it would cut back severely needed food assistance if it carried out a test. Each year China donates approximately half of the food North Korea lacks to feed its people and half of all oil the country consumes.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Susan Scutti, CNN
Andreas Preuss, CNN