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North Korea – nuclear test

N Korea claims second nuclear test, France warns of new sanctions

Article published on the 2009-05-25 Latest update 2009-05-25 14:27 TU

Televisions in Tokyo broadcast news of North Korea's nuclear test, 25 May 2009(Photo: Reuters)

Televisions in Tokyo broadcast news of North Korea's nuclear test, 25 May 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

North Korea said it carried out a second nuclear test Monday, just weeks after the United Nations censured the country for launching a long-range rocket. France, along with the US, Britain, Russia, the European Union and North Korea’s neighbours South Korea and Japan have condemned the test, which goes in the face of international pressure for the communist country to disarm.

"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way as requested by its scientists and technicians," reported the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea tested a first nuclear bomb in October 2006.

"The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology," it continued.

“It appears that the explosion was much more destructive than the device that was tested in 2006,” said RFI’s correspondent in Seoul, Eban Ramstad. “We know this from seismic readings that were monitored here in South Korea. The test caused a seismic disturbance that measured 4.5 on the Richter scale. In October 2006 that test created a measurement of 3.8.”

The force of the bomb was between 10 and 20 kilotons, according to Russia's defence ministry. The test in 2006 was estimated at one kiloton.

The UN Security Council plans to meet Monday afternoon in New York. It sanctioned North Korea for the 2006 test.

France condemned the test, calling on the country to abstain from “further provocation”.

“France firmly condemns the nuclear test carried out by North Korea,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.

“France will consult in the next few hours with its partners in the Security Council and in the region on how to address this serious act by North Korea, and in particular, on the reinforcement of sanctions.”

North Korea said it was quitting six-party disarmament talks after the UN condemned its missile test.

It has often said it needs nuclear arms as a deterrent. KCNA reported that Monday’s “successful nuclear test is greatly inspiring the army and people of the DPRK,” and that it will “will contribute to defending the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism and ensuring peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the region around it.”

Ramstad says there is a shift in the understanding of why North Korea is testing weapons.

“Since the early 1990s we have a pattern in which North Korea takes a provocative action, and then a short time later seeks negotiation with the US or other countries in hopes of extracting some economic aid or security concession,” he explained, adding that North Korea's pulling out of the six-party talks after the long-range missile test in April, and also statements that it is not seeking a meeting with the US, indicates a change in tactics.

“All this seems to suggest that something different is starting to evolve here,” he said. “Of course we never have a chance to ask them what they really mean… but right now people are starting to reconsider the conventional wisdom that they’re just seeking stuff from the United States.”