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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Nuclear Weapons Test - 9 October 2006

On October 9, 2006, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency announced that it had successfully conducted an underground nuclear test. The test was reported to have taken place at 10:36AM, local time, in Hwaderi, near Kilju city, in North Hamkyung province. According to the KCNA statement, no radioactive leakage had taken place as a consequence of the test.

Initial reported indicatd that the South Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources had have detected a seismic tremor of a magnitude 3.58 to 3.7 on the Richter scale at around that time. The US Geological Survey later reported detecting seismic activity rating at 4.2 on the Richter scale at 10:35:27 AM, local time on October 9, 2006, with the epicenter determined to be located at 41.311°N, 129.114°E; putting it in the general proximate vicinity of the Chik-tong, P'unggye-yok site that had been reported on in the days prior as a possible nuclear test site location of concern.





Seismic record of explosion from digital station Vladivostok
Source: CEME - Geophysical Service of Russian Academy

The nuclear test was reported to have had a yield equivalent to between 500 and 2000 tons of TNT. By 15 October 2006 US intelligence estimates of the test put the size of the blast as low as 0.2 kilotons, the equivalent of 200 tons of TNT. According to some reports, the North Koreans had informed the Chinese government that the planned test would produce a 4-kiloton explosion.

The test took place a day after the nineth anniversary of Kim Jong Il's accession to the post of General Secretary of the National Workers' Party in 1997, and a day prior to the 61st anniversary of the founding of the National Worker's Party. The test also took place on the day Japan's Shinzo Abe arrived in South Korea for his first visit there in his new capacity as Prime Minister.

The test also follows a United Nations Security Council presidential statement from October 6, 2006 warning North Korea against conducting a nuclear test and "that a nuclear test, if carried out by the DPRK, would represent a clear threat to international peace and security".

According to press reports, China was given 20 minutes prior notice of the nuclear test by North Korea , and then immediately proceeded to alert the United States, South Korea and Japan.

South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-Ung said 13 October 2006 that North Korea is believed to be developing nuclear warheads for its missiles but needs "a few more years" before it can produce them. "Intelligence authorities believe North Korea has made primitive nuclear weapons," Yoon told a closed parliamentary hearing. "As North Korea has been developing low-grade nuclear weapons, I assume North Korea at the next stage will be moving in the direction of miniaturizing weapons to fit them into missiles."




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