North Korea Claims ‘Successful’ Hydrogen Bomb Test

SEOUL— In a surprise and rare televised announcement over state television KCNA, North Korea said it successfully conducted a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb test Wednesday.

«We’ve now become a nuclear state that also holds a hydrogen bomb,” said the KCNA announcer.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.1 magnitude earthquake near Punggye-ri, where North Korea conducted three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Last month Kim Jong Un’s claim that his country possesses a hydrogen bomb was widely discounted as unsubstantiated.

The United States quickly condemned North Korea for violating U.N. resolutions and vowed to respond appropriately to this latest provocation, but said it was too early to verify Pyongyang’s claim that it has detonated a hydrogen bomb. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement the U.S. has consistently made clear it will not accept a nuclear North Korea.

«We will continue to protect and defend our allies in the region, including the Republic of Korea, and will respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations,» Price said.

After North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013, the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions banning Pyongyang from conducting further nuclear and offensive weapons tests and imposed harsh economic sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime.

North Korea analyst Shin In-kyun with the Korea Defense Network said Wednesday’s nuclear blast was more powerful than its past nuclear tests. Based on the seismic activity generated he estimated the bomb produced 40 kilotons of power, significantly more than the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II.

“The Hiroshima atomic bomb produced 16 kilotons, so North Korea’s nuclear test could have been 2.5 times more powerful than Hiroshima.” Shin In-kyun said.

In its televised announcement North Korea justified its need for nuclear capability to defend itself against U.S.-led efforts to isolate and pressure the Kim Jong Un regime through economic sanctions and military containment.

“The H-bomb test we conducted is a self-defensive measure to thoroughly protect our nation’s autonomy and our people’s right to live and to reliably secure regional peace and safety on the Korean peninsula against accumulating nuclear threats and the intimidation of the enemy group led by the United States,” said the KCNA announcer.

While North Korea promised not to share its nuclear technology, the announcer said Pyongyang planned to continue to develop its nuclear technology “until the sky falls.”