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N. Korea Conducts 2nd Nuke Test Since 2006

Posted May. 26, 2009 05:24,   


North Korea yesterday conducted its second nuclear test in nearly three years, followed by a test-firing of a short-range surface-to-air missile.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported at 11:59 a.m. yesterday, “We successfully conducted another underground nuclear test May 25, Juche 98 (2009), as part of measures to bolster our nuclear deterrent for self-defense at the request of our scientists and technicians.”

A (South) Korea Meteorological Administration official said, “A 4.4 magnitude earthquake was detected near Poongkye-ri in the northeastern city of Kilju at 9:54 a.m. Monday.”

The event took place at N 41.28 and E 129.13, and was first detected by a South Korean earthquake detection center in Sokcho, Gangwon Province, 40 seconds after 9:55 a.m.

Center director Lee Deok-soo said, “Our analysis of the earthquake indicated that it was artificial. Unlike natural earthquakes, the seismic center was not far from the earth’s surface.”

The seismic magnitude was higher than that of the October 2006 test (3.9 on the Richter scale), indicating the latest test was more powerful than the first, according to the (South) Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.

Pyongyang reportedly notified Washington of the test right before it was conducted.

North Korea also appears to have test-fired a missile with a range of 130 kilometers from Musudan-ri, Hwadae County, at 12:08 p.m. after the nuclear test, according to South Korean officials.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council at the presidential office at 1:30 p.m. yesterday on possible countermeasures to the test.

President Lee’s spokesman Lee Dong-kwan quoted the chief executive as saying the test was “truly disappointing,” and ordered government officials to stay calm in any situation.

President Lee also urged responding resolutely and confidently with a strong defensive readiness and security measures so that the people can feel safe.

He discussed joint action with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso in a 10-minute phone conversation in the afternoon.

Spokesman Lee said in a statement, “The North’s second nuclear test is a serious threat to peace not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world, and a grave challenge to the international nonproliferation regime. Pyongyang committed a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 banning additional nuclear tests.”

The statement also urged North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In the aftermath of the test, the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry in Seoul is seeking global cooperation on the matter, including from parties to the six-way talks and the United Nations.

The South Korean Unification Ministry has banned South Koreans from visiting North Korea, except for the Kaesong industrial complex near the inter-Korean border.

The South‘s Defense Ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have activated an emergency system by ordering a stronger defensive readiness and preparing for any provocations.

yongari@donga.com kyle@donga.com