N. Korea sends message with nuclear test-monitor

An activist from an anti-North Korea civic group burns a portrait of North’s leader Kim Jong-un during a rally against North Korea’s nuclear test near the U.S. embassy in central Seoul February 12, 2013. The placards read, “Let’s pulverize North Korea’s nuclear war provocations!” (L) and “Kim Jong-un out!” (R) REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

VIENNA,  (Reuters) – North Korea’s nuclear test may be aimed at showing its foes it can deliver a missile with a warhead but it is still a long way from being able to threaten the United States, experts said.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), an international monitoring agency, said an explosion-like event that North Korea described as a nuclear test had a magnitude of 4.9. This was bigger than similar tests it carried out in 2006 and 2009.

An activist from an anti-North Korea civic group burns a portrait of North's leader Kim Jong-un during a rally against North Korea's nuclear test near the U.S. embassy in central Seoul February 12, 2013. The placards read, "Let's pulverize North Korea's nuclear war provocations!" (L) and "Kim Jong-un out!" (R) REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
An activist from an anti-North Korea civic group burns a portrait of North’s leader Kim Jong-un during a rally against North Korea’s nuclear test near the U.S. embassy in central Seoul February 12, 2013. The placards read, “Let’s pulverize North Korea’s nuclear war provocations!” (L) and “Kim Jong-un out!” (R)
REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

CTBTO executive secretary Tibor Toth said the action “constitutes a clear threat to international peace and security and challenges efforts to strengthen global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”.

North Korea said the test, which drew swift international condemnation, had used a miniaturized device.

If it was such a device, “that suggests a weapon that could more easily be delivered by missiles, something that is especially concerning to the U.S., Japan, South Korea and others,” said Shashank Joshi, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

Nuclear proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London said: “It won’t be possible to confirm from afar, but the claim of a successful miniaturized device is consistent with expectations that the test would be of a warhead that can fit in the nose cone of one of its missiles.”

Jim Walsh of Massachussets Institute of Technology said: “It seems as if Pyongyang wants to send the message – true or not – that it can employ a missile with a nuclear warhead and that previous problems with their nuclear tests have been overcome.”

However, North Korea still had a long way to go before it could credibly threaten the United States with nuclear weapons, said Daryl Kimball from the Arms Control Association, a U.S.-based research and advocacy group.

“It is likely to be years away from fielding an ICBM, which could deliver a nuclear warhead to the U.S. mainland. There is still time to halt and reverse current trends before North Korea’s nuclear capabilities become more substantial.”

NO LIES ON TEST

An international test-ban treaty was negotiated in the 1990s but has not yet taken effect because not all holders of nuclear technology have ratified it. The Vienna-based CBTBO monitors possible breaches, looking out for signs of atomic tests, including seismic waves and radioactive traces.

Experts say it can take days or more to detect possible radioactive signs that would confirm with absolute certainty that a nuclear test had taken place.

Seen as a cornerstone of efforts to free the world of atomic bombs, the test ban treaty enjoys wide support around the world. But of the five officially recognised nuclear weapon states, the United States and China have yet to ratify it.

“Though confirmation will take some time, given the seismic signature and the important fact (North Korea) has never lied when it comes to nuclear tests, I think we can take them at their word and assume this was the explosion of a nuclear device,” a Western diplomat in Vienna said.

Kimball also said the test was an embarrassment for China’s leadership and Pyongyang may have jeopardized the aid and diplomatic support it receives from Beijing.

China criticised the previous tests but did not roll back on aid. But Beijing had signaled that if North Korea undertook further tests, it would not hesitate to reduce assistance.

“Indeed, Beijing could do much more to apply pressure. Past Chinese diplomatic and economic support has allowed North Korea to ignore world opinion, in spite of the desperate state of its economy and hunger-ravaged population. It is important that Beijing now demonstrate its last warning was sincere,” Kimball said.

Comments  

Boston march against hate speech avoids Charlottesville chaos

BOSTON (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Boston yesterday to protest a “free speech” rally featuring far-right speakers a week after a woman was killed at a Virginia white-supremacist demonstration.

Trump, first lady will not attend Kennedy Center Honors -White House

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump will not attend the Kennedy Center Honors in December, the White House announced yesterday, after several honorees said they would boycott a White House reception before the show.

Spain hunts for driver in van rampage, says Islamist cell dismantled

RIPOLL/BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) – Police were searching yesterday for the driver of a van that killed 13 people when it ploughed into a crowd in Barcelona and were trying to determine whether two other suspected Islamist militants linked to the attack had died or were at large.

Nigeria’s Buhari returns home after three-month sick leave in Britain

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari returned home yesterday from three months of medical leave in Britain where he received treatment for an unspecified ailment.

Trump dumps controversial chief strategist Bannon in latest upheaval

WASHINGTON/HAGERSTOWN, Md., (Reuters) – President Donald Trump yesterday fired his chief strategist Steve Bannon in the latest White House shake-up, removing a far-right architect of his 2016 election victory and a driving force behind his nationalist and anti-globalization agenda.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×