North Korea claimed to have successfully conducted an underground hydrogen bomb test, prompting international condemnation (AP). Experts say it could be weeks before Pyongyang's claims can be confirmed, although a 5.1 seismic event was detected along the country's northeast coast shortly before the announcement. South Korea put itsmilitary on alert (Yonhap) as its top nuclear envoy began consultations with the United States and Japan. China, the North's chief ally, said it would lodge a protest with Pyongyang. If confirmed, it would be North Korea's fourth nuclear test since 2006 (WSJ) and mark a major upgrade in its capabilities.
“Kim Jong-un’s idea of how to move forward seems premised on the idea that his nuclear deterrent is the only way to create a secure environment for North Korea’s economic development. Yet, his neighbors clearly believe North Korea’s economic survival and prosperity is only feasible if North Korea reverses course and pursues denuclearization,” writes CFR's Scott Snyder.
“China has an aversion to any action that might contribute to the collapse of the regime in Pyongyang, on whose behalf China fought in the 1950-53 Korean War. China fears a collapse could bring a wave of refugees and violence surging across the border, along with a possible U.S. military presence in the North. China has signed on to previous rounds of U.N. sanctions, and Chinese officials and scholars have typically said that the country has limited additional leverage to wield against North Korea,” writes Christopher Bodeen for the Associated Press.
“North Korea is not above overstating its military capabilities. But in apparently reaching such an advanced stage in its nuclear development, despite a raft of UN security council sanctions and the Obama administration’s attempts to isolate the secretive state, North Korea has again laid bare the limitations of the international community’s response,” writes Justin McCurry and Tom Phillips for the Guardian.
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