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North Korea conducts nuclear weapons test



According to South Korea's meteorological agency, North Korea has possibly conducted a nuclear test. A seismic event was detected and if a nuclear detonation, it is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. USA TODAY
TOKYO - North Korea appears to have conducted a nuclear weapons test early Friday, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
If confirmed, it would be North Korea’s fifth nuclear weapons test since 2006, all in violation of UN resolutions.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye condemned the reported test, saying North Korea demonstrated “fanatic recklessness" as the country continues to cling to nuclear development.
South Korea’s military reported that a magnitude 5.0 earthquake was detected early Friday near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in northeastern North Korea.
"An artificial quake was detected near North Korea's Punggye-ri at around 9:30 a.m.," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to Yonhap.
The blast is being monitored by U.S. agencies.
"We are aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula in the vicinity of a known North Korean nuclear test site. We are monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional partners," Ned Price, spokesperson for the National Security Council in Washington, DC, said in a prepared statement.
Yonhap reported that the epicenter is believed to be the same location where North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January. Pyongyang also conducted nuclear weapons tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.
While the tests are “unwanted,” they are no longer de-stabilizing, said Robert E. Kelly, professor of political science at South Korea’s Pusan National University.
"We've known for awhile that North Korea has functional nuclear weapons … The real issues are can they improve these weapons from basic atomic bombs to hydrogen weapons? And can they marry them to a missile so that they can deliver them? The answer on both counts right now is probably 'No,' " Kelly said in an email interview Friday.
Friday marks the 68th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.  In the past, the reclusive nation has marked major anniversaries with weapons tests or other provocative actions.
About 28,000 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, which technically remains at war with its neighbors to the north.
In January, North Korea conducted with it said was a test of a hydrogen bomb, though analysts later cast doubt on whether the device was a true hydrogen weapon. The North has conducted several tests of medium- and long-range missiles since then, part of its push for a nuclear-armed missile that could one day reach the U.S. mainland.
Earlier this week, North Korea fired three ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan in an apparent signal of its displeasure with G-20 talks being held in Hangzhou, China.
European and U.S. monitoring services also detected similar seismic activity, with the U.S. Geological Survey calling it an "explosion" on its website
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