The United States, South Korea and Australia all registered seismic activity in the area concerned. If confirmed, the experiment would be the proof that the Stalinist regime possesses a functioning nuclear bomb. Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have been quick to slam the announcement as Asian Stock Exchanges dip.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) Negative reactions have started pouring in from around the world following North Korea's announcement this morning that it successfully carried out its first test on a nuclear weapon. If confirmed, the experiment would be the proof that the Stalinist regime possesses a functioning nuclear bomb.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA, the only press agency allowed by the regime led by Kim Jong-il) said an underground test was conducted at 10.30am (local time). It was "conducted with indigenous technology 100 per cent and brought happiness to our military and people".
The test is said to have been carried out at Hwadaeri near the coastal city of Kilju.
The American National Geophysical Institute "localized seismic activity" measuring a magnitude of 4.2 on the Richter scale around 385km from Pyongyang, below sea level. South Korean Intelligence services measured a magnitude 3.6 tremor in an area farther from the capital. The same confirmation came from a seismic centre in Australia.
In the statement announcing the test, the KCNA said there was no radioactive leak and added: "The nuclear test will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it."
The reaction of South Korea, China, Japan and the United States has been swift. South Korean president, Roh Moo-Hyun, called an emergency meeting with his private advisers, while the Chinese foreign affairs ministry said China "expresses its resolute opposition to Pyongyang's nuclear test and hopes North Korea returns to the six-party talks."
A statement issued by the department said "improving stability in Northeast Asia is in everyone's interest. North Korea has ignored the concern of the international community, brazenly proceeding with a nuclear test."
In conclusion, Beijing "expressly called" on the Stalinist regime to "undertake its commitments to the non-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and stop all actions that can lead to the deterioration of the situation, and to return to the six-party talks. The Chinese government calls on all sides to deal with this calmly and seek consultations to peacefully resolve the issue."
The new Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, described the test as an ""unpardonable" act while his foreign affairs minister, Taro Aso, said a new UN Security Council resolution against the Pyongyang regime was "possible".
Abe arrived in Seoul in the late morning, where he will be received by President Roh this afternoon. The leadership summit between Japan and South Korea the first in a year will inevitably focus on what steps to take to tackle the nuclear crisis.
The United States has also joined the chorus of condemnation. White House spokesman, Tony Snow, released a statement saying "a North Korean test could be a provocative act against the stand of the international community and our call for moderation with regard to actions that could aggravate tensions in Northeast Asia."
Shortly after the announcement, Asian Stock Exchanges dipped. Just before closing, Seoul registered an overall drop of -2.61%, Hong Kong of 2.23 % and Singapore 0.76 %. Economic analysts said that "given the insecurity in the area... 70% of foreign investments in China, Korea and Japan" are at risk.
The Pyongyang regime already shook the international community last July with a sudden test that launched six medium-range missiles and one intercontintental one. Right after the launch, the United Nations agreed on sanctions against Pyongyang and urged the regime leaders to return "urgently" to nuclear disarmament talks.