North Korea claims successful nuclear bomb test

North Korea claims to have successfully detonated an underground nuclear explosion. South Korea appears to have some evidence of the demonstration, probably in the form of seismic records.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (9:36 p.m. EDT Sunday) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, citing defense officials. (Source)

Now the political fallout begins…

Update: Edward Vielmetti provides a link to the telemetry data from Inchon.

According to the AP, South Korea confirms detecting a magnitude 3.6 event. Australia and Japan also detected the event, but Japan says more information needs to be collected and analyzed to determine whether this was a nuclear event. Apparently, North Korea has caused other seismic events using tons of TNT.

The U.S. Geological Service places the magnitude at 4.2. I would guess that puts it out of the range of being caused by TNT…

The USGS places the epicenter at 41.311N, 129.114E, a little more than 2.5 miles (4.15 km) northeast of the locations discussed in my earlier post, “Where in the World is Mount Mantap,” and actually found by ArmsControlWonk. Kudos to the USGS for using a coordinate system that plugs directly into Google Earth.

Update 2: An Australian expert claims this nuclear demonstration puts Pyongyang in the better negotiating position:

“It’s one of the last cards they have left,” he said. “To have decided to play it now suggests an ominous development in the mood in Pyongyang.”

North Korea’s official news agency announced the successful test earlier this afternoon, describing it as an “historic event”.

“They’re playing hardball … and at the moment they have the upper hand,” Dr Huisken said.

Huisken doesn’t expect that warm glow that North Korea’s experiencing to last, though.

With there now being no doubt that the North has nuclear weapons, the reality of the threat the regime poses would affect how other nations deal with it, effectively forcing Washington and others to play hardball in return.

“I’m pretty certain North Korea will find life as a state with nuclear weapons is not safer or more rewarding than life without one,” he said.

“I think they’ll live to regret this.”