North Korea Successfully Tests a Nuclear Weapon

Monday, October 9, 2006

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

Late last night (late morning in local time), North Korea successfully detonated a nuclear device in an underground testing facility near this country’s border with Russia. This confirms North Korea’s claims in the last week that it had successfully manufactured nuclear weaponry and would proceed to test it.

North Korea is widely regarded as the last Stalinist regime, and is among the poorest and most secretive countries in the world. While spending millions in developing the bomb, North Korea’s perpetual chairman Kim Jong-Il has driven the country into the ground, as economic isolation resulted in food and power shortages and in the disintegration of the industrial sector, due to the lack of markets and spare parts. The country has survived largely thanks to international aid from Russia, China, and South Korea.

The blast was detected by South Korean geologist at 10:36am (22:36 EST of the previous day), and shortly thereafter the official North Korean news agency released a statement acknowledging the test and calling it “a historical event that has brought our military and our people huge joy.” The explosion was smaller than that caused by the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, which has led to speculation that North Korea’s artefact was not plutonium-based and therefore weaker than standard nuclear weapons.

The test has caused concern all over the world. Russia has expressed worries about how close the site is to the Russian border, while regional players like China, Japan, and South Korea have ran the full spectrum, from guarded reprimands to full cabinet crisis meetings. The United Nations Security Council has condemned North Korea’s test, but has so far failed to announce further measures against the country, although it is reported to be considering economic sanctions and an arms embargo at the behest of the United States.

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