International leaders have condemned North Korea after the rogue nation conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test on Friday despite strict sanctions.
On what was a national holiday in Pyongyang for the 68th anniversary of the nation’s founding, state media announced the detonation of a “higher level” nuclear warhead.
South Korean president Park Geun-hye accused North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of “maniacal recklessness” in his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull described the test as “yet another shocking disturbance of peace in the region and a real threat to peace in the region”.
Foreign minister Julie Bishop said North Korea’s actions were “extremely destabilising” and called on China to intervene to prevent further unrest in the region.
The United Nations Security Council held an urgent meeting on Friday to work on a new set of sanctions for what Japanese spokesman Yoshihide Suga labelled the “neighbourhood outlaw”.
How big was the bomb?
News of the test came after South Korean monitors recorded artificial seismic activity near a known nuclear test site, registering a magnitude 5.
North Korean state media said the test allowed for the further development of “a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power”.
“This has definitely put on a higher level … DPRK’S technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets,” the KCNA official news agency said.
South Korea estimated the power of the device detonated to be around 10 kilotonnes, or 10,000 tonnes of TNT.
As a comparison, the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima had a blast yield of 15,000 tonnes.
The test is a reaction to tighter restrictions imposed by the international community following North Korea’s four earlier tests in January and February this year.
Will China step in?
Speaking from London, Ms Bishop called on Pyongyang’s chief ally China to “curb this provocative behaviour”.
“We will be seeking China’s response to this. China is an influence in North Korea and China has a special role to play given its proximity to the North Korean regime,” Ms Bishop said.
“While North Korea is testing nuclear weapons and carrying out these nuclear tests, their people are suffering.”
Beijing on Friday said it “firmly opposes” the test.
However, Beijing is unlikely to act due to fears a collapse of the North Korean regime could lead to an influx of refugees to its borders.
Furthermore, a unified Korean peninsula would likely fall under the existing Seoul government, meaning it would be an ally to the United States – a strategic setback for China.
Donald Trump blames Hillary Clinton
Meanwhile, US presidential candidate Donald Trump seized on the test as an opportunity to take a jab at opponent Hillary Clinton.
During a speech in Pensacola, Florida, Mr Trump called the test “one more massive Hillary Clinton failure”.
“Just today we were reminded of the need for missile defense after North Korea performed its fourth nuclear test since Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State,” Mr Trump said.
“Hillary Clinton has presided over the greatest series of foreign policy failures and blunders anyone has ever seen. Her policies have produced massive global disorder.”
Mr Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, also called on the media to hold the Clintons accountable in a post to his Twitter account.
Please ask Hillary:
Do you support your husband's 1994 nuclear deal with North Korea?
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 10, 2016
Ms Clinton did not respond to Mr Trump’s claims, choosing instead to “strongly condemn” North Korea’s actions.
“This constitutes a direct threat to the United States, and we cannot and will never accept this,” she said.