North Korea reports success in first nuclear test

North Korea has conducted its first nuclear weapons test, according to an announcement released today by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The country is now the eighth in the world to have acquired these capabilities. Here is the text of today's announcement:

The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.

It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under scientific consideration and careful calculation.

The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability.

It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.

Link. DPRK = Democratic People's Republic of Korea, KPA = Korean People's Army. Here's a related NYT article by David Sanger. (thanks, Adrian , John Parres and others)

Reader comment: bbum says,

If North Korea did manage to blow up a nuke of any sizable yield, it would show up as an earthquake on the various monitoring sites.
Sure enough. There is a quake in NK at about the right time. Shows as a magnitude 4.2 blast. Link.

Windell Oskay says,

The USGS page that you've linked to shows some basic maps, but here's a way to see it in Google Earth.

This link is to a Google Earth .kmz file from the USGS, showing the locations of earthquakes within the last week, indicating their locations and magnitude. Navigate over to North Korea, and you can see where the blast took place. The resolution in that particular area is surprisingly high.

Anonymous says,

Here's the Google Maps link to the satellite image of the epicenter.

WillS says,

You mention that NK is the 8th nation to acquire this capability (US, Russia, UK, France, Israel, India and Pakistan being the others). You forgot South Africa (Link) which developed 6 weapons and tested one in 1979.

James Boyd says, had a google earth kmz file up of suspected helicopter pads, vip housing, tunnel-digging equipment, and tunnel entrances a few weeks before the actual test: Link.

Anthony Lux says,

This link provides the Google Maps coordinates for the North Korean nuclear facility (as opposed to the presumed testing site, which has already been posted). I used the image and description of the facility from an article on the China Daily website (Link) to find the place. Pretty good resolution. Note the silo on the south end of the facility. Also, note that this facility is not exactly in the middle of nowhere, as there is a reasonably-sized town just to the west.

Anonymous says,

An additional frightening aftereffect of underground nuclear tests is
the potential for more earthquakes, volcanic activity, and so on,
especially if the test is done near a faultline. This was, of course,
along the Pacific Rim. See this (long-dormant) article:

Science 19 September 1969:

Vol. 165. no. 3899, pp. 1255 – 1256

"Underground Nuclear Explosions and the Control of Earthquakes" by
Cesare Emiliani 1, Christopher G. A. Harrison 1, and Mary Swanson 1
1 Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, Florida

Abstract: Underground nuclear explosions trigger significant earthquake
activity for at least 32 hours afterward and to distances up to at least
860 kilometers…


Juan Aguilar says,

I believe the list submitted by WillS omits China. The current list of 8 "official" nuclear weapons states, in order of acquisition is:

United States (1945)
Russia (1949)
United Kingdom (1952)
France (1960)
People's Republic of China (1964)
India (1974)
Pakistan (1998)
North Korea (2006)

Israel is, of course, suspected. And South Africa recounced and dismantled its nuclear weapons program in the 1990s. So that is either 9 or 10, depending on how you are counting.

Nils de Mooij says,

In the updated list, a ninth country actually is still missing. This, of course, is China (the People's Republic of — ), which developed nuclear weapons in 1964, before Pakistan, India, or nuclear upstart North-Korea had even started their programs. China also developed hydrogen bombs, not long after. For some strange reason, when reading the news about North-Korea, the country had initially escaped my own mental list of the nuclear club as well.

It might also be worth mentioning that South Africa disassembled its nuclear arsenal in the early 1990s.