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North Korea follows through and carries out its third nuclear test yesterday triggering 5.1 magnitude artificial tremor

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Map of North Korea's nuclear test facility

North Korea followed through with its plans announced last month and carried out its third nuclear test yesterday.  Initial reports of a 5.1 magnitude artificial tremor in the northeast section of the country began to trickle out late yesterday evening with confirmation of the nuclear test coming out an our or so later.  United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement condemning the nuclear test as a “clear and grave violation” of UN resolutions. President Obama echoed the outcry in his own statement, calling the test a “highly provocative act” that “undermines regional stability.”

North Korea’s state-run KCNA announced the successful underground test of a “miniaturized nuclear device with greater explosive force.” The KCNA later announced the test on national television, saying that “it was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level with the use of a smaller and lighter A-bomb than the previous ones, yet with great explosive power.”  The broadcast also claimed that “the test did not give any adverse effect to the surrounding ecological environment.”

South Korea estimates the blast as between 6-7 kilotons, around a third as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.  It does appear to have been bigger than prior attempts; data from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization showed a 4.9 magnitude for the blast next to the 4.52 recorded in 2009.

Experts note that North Korea’s recent satellite launch and apparent miniaturization of a nuclear bomb raise the stakes considerably.