Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea has conducted a sixth nuclear test, the Japanese government said, a move the United States and its allies in the region are likely to view as a major provocation.
Seismological data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) showed that an explosion caused a 6.3-magnitude tremor in the country’s northeast, not far from the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
If the initial data holds, it would make it the most powerful weapon North Korea has ever tested. The last nuclear test Pyongyang conducted, which was nearly a year ago, triggered a 5.3-magnitude seismological event.
“After analyzing data provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Japanese government concluded that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said in a live television broadcast.
North Korean state media said it will make a major announcement at 3 p.m. Pyongyang time (2:30 a.m. Eastern Time).
South Korea and Japan are gathering and analyzing data to confirm details of the test, which Japanese Minister Shinzo Abe said could not be tolerated.
“If North Korea did indeed conduct a nuclear test, we absolutely cannot tolerate and must protest firmly. We will convene a National Security council meeting to gather and analyze the information,” Abe said in a live television broadcast prior to Kono’s announcement.
South Korea is holding a National Security Council meeting to discuss the incident, presided by President Moon Jae-in, according to South Korea’s presidential office. Japan has dispatched so-called “radiation sniffer” planes to take samples to confirm that a nuclear explosion did in fact take place.
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