North Korea carried out its second nuclear test this year just hours after President Obama wrapped up his tour of Asia.
Pyongyang confirmed it conducted a successful explosion which triggered a 5.3-magnitude ‘artificial’ earthquake in the country’s north east.
The reclusive country boasted about its growing nuclear arsenal on state-controlled TV and said the test was in response to the strict international sanctions imposed against it.
North Korea said it would continue to strengthen ‘the quantity and quality’ of its nuclear weapons.
It came just one day after Obama, speaking in Vientiane, Laos, said he will strive to reduce North Korea’s nuclear threat in his final months as president.
Obama called for a further tightening of sanctions against Kim Jong Un after the dictatorial leader fired three long range ballistic missiles this week.
‘We are deeply disturbed by what’s happened,’ he said before calling on the country’s sole ally China to work with the US to eliminate the threat it poses.
Obama spoke to the leaders of Japan and South Korea and promised to ensure that ‘provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences’, a spokesman said.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the test as a clear violation of security council resolutions and accused Kim of ‘maniacal recklessness’.
North Korea’s state TV said the test ‘examined and confirmed’ features of a nuclear warhead designed to be mounted on ballistic missiles.
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye called an emergency meeting with her aides in Vientiane the North tested the nuclear warhead.
The move drew condemnation from the South, which said the ‘maniacal recklessness’ of ruler Kim Jong-Un would lead to self-destruction.
It claimed there was no radioactive leakage or adverse environmental impact caused by the test.
The quake sparked by the nuclear bomb was between 5.0 and 5.3 on the Richter scale by various agencies.
The Yonhap news agency claimed that equated to a 10 kilotonne explosion – the country’s biggest to date.
Hiroshima’s 15 kilotonne blast obliterated five square miles of the city and killed around 100,000 people.
US, European and Chinese agencies all picked up the tremor at 12:30am GMT, at surface level.
It came on the day North Korean officials gathered at a massive indoor rally in Pyongyang marking the 68th anniversary of the founding of the nation.
The earthquake was detected near the country’s only nuclear testing site, Punggye-ri, which has hosted all four of the country’s confirmed nuclear tests so far.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Friday it could not immediately confirm the cause; the country’s weather agency said it was analyzing the data.
But the US Geological Service and the China Earthquake Networks Center both reported a suspected ‘explosion’ in the area.
And Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a briefing in Tokyo: ‘We believe it’s possible that North Korea carried out a nuclear test.
‘The meteorological agency detected seismic waves that are probably not from a natural earthquake.’
The quake comes ahead of Friday’s National Day, which celebrates the founding of North Korea – a period in which the country usually flexes its military muscles.
And there had been increased talk of a nuclear test after the US blacklisted Kim on July 6 for human rights abuses.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.