Explosion in North Korea today believed to be nuclear test
SEOUL, South Korea
North Korea apparently conducted a widely anticipated nuclear test today, strongly indicated by an “explosion-like” earthquake that monitoring agencies around the globe said appeared to be unnatural.
There was no confirmation from Pyongyang that it had conducted the underground test, which it has been threatening for weeks.
Any test would be seen as another big step toward North Korea’s goal of building a warhead that can be mounted on a missile. It would also be a bold signal from young leader Kim Jong Un, who took power in December 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
The South Korean Defense Ministry, which raised its military alert level after the quake, said it was trying to determine whether it was a test. Nuclear blasts can create tremors but they are distinct from those caused by natural earthquakes.
A nuclear test would also be a challenge to the U.N. Security Council, which recently punished Pyongyang for launching a long-range rocket seen as a covert test of ballistic missile technology. In condemning that December rocket launch and imposing more sanctions on Pyongyang, the council had demanded a stop to future launches and ordered North Korea to respect a ban on nuclear activity — or face “significant action” by the U.N.
A world nuclear test monitoring organization said it detected what it called an “unusual seismic event” in North Korea.