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North Korea claims successful test of hydrogen bomb

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North Korea said that it has conducted a hydrogen bomb test, a defiant and surprising move that, if confirmed, would put Pyongyang a big step closer toward improving its still-limited nuclear arsenal. The latest test, completely based on our technology and our manpower, confirmed that our newly-developed technological resources are accurate and scientifically demonstrated the impact of our miniaturised H-bomb, the TV announcer said. The surprise test was personally ordered by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and came just two days before his birthday.

The test, if confirmed by outside experts, will lead to a strong push for new, tougher sanctions at the United Nations and further worsen already abysmal relations between Pyongyang and its neighbours. North Korean nuclear tests worry Washington and others because each new blast is seen as pushing North Korea's scientists and engineers closer to their goal of an arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States. While a hydrogen bomb is much more powerful than an atomic bomb, it is also much harder to make. In a hydrogen bomb, radiation from a nuclear fission explosion sets off a fusion reaction responsible for a powerful blast and radioactivity.

North Korea is thought to have a handful of rudimentary nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs. After several failures, it put its first satellite into space with a long-range rocket launched in December 2012. Experts say that ballistic missiles and rockets in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology. The UN called the 2012 launch a banned test of ballistic missile technology. Some analysts say the North hasn't likely achieved the technology needed to manufacture a miniaturized warhead that could fit on a long-range missile capable of hitting the US. But there is a growing debate on just how far the North has advanced in its secretive nuclear and missile programs.

In the first indication of a possible test, the US Geological Survey measured an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1. An official from the Korea Metrological Administration, South Korea's weather agency, said the agency believed the earthquake was caused artificially based on an analysis of the seismic waves and because it originated 49 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kilju, the northeastern area where North Korea's main nuclear test site is located. The country conducted all three previous atomic detonations there.

The test is a surprise, both in its purported type and its timing.
North Korea hadn't conducted an atomic explosion since early 2013, and leader Kim Jong Un did not mention the country's nuclear weapons in his New Year's speech. Outside analysts speculated that Kim was worried about deteriorating ties with China, the North's last major ally, which has shown signs of greater frustration at provocations and a possible willingness to allow strong UN sanctions.

UN Security Council planning to meet to discuss the test
The United Nations Security Council is planning to meet to discuss North Korea’s latest reported nuclear test, council diplomats said.White House said that it could not confirm North Korea’s claims that it had successfully conducted a test of a miniaturised hydrogen nuclear device, but it will continue to monitor the situation.