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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Nuclear Weapons Test - 11-12 February 2013

On 11 February 2013, the US Geological Survey reported a 4.9-magnitude earthquake in North Korea, raising fears that Pyongyang had gone ahead with its threat to conduct a third nuclear test. North Korea confirmed it had conducted a nuclear test on 12 February 2013.

The North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a report on 12 February 2013 that said the scientific field for national defence of the DPRK had succeeded in the third underground nuclear test at the site for underground nuclear test in the northern part of the DPRK on 12 February 2013. The test had been carried out as part of practical measures of counteraction to defend the country's security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the US which wantonly violated the DPRK's legitimate right to launch satellite for peaceful purposes. According to KCNA, the test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level with the use of a smaller and light atomic bomb unlike the devices used in previous tests, yet with great explosive power. It was confirmed that the test did not give any adverse effect to the surrounding ecological environment. The specific features of the function and explosive power of the atomic bomb and all other measurements fully tallied with the values of the design, physically demonstrating the good performance of the DPRK's nuclear deterrence that has become diversified. KCNA said that the nuclear test would greatly encourage the army and people of the DPRK in their efforts to build a thriving nation with the same spirit and mettle as displayed in conquering space, and offer an important occasion in ensuring peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region. The DPRK Foreign Ministry also issued a statement in which it also identified sanctions and US pressures following its satellite launch as the reason for the test.

The United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea, the United Nations, NATO, the European Union, and others condemned or otherwise criticized the test. North Korea's primary ally, China, expressed what it called "firm opposition" to the test, and urged Pyongyang to abide by its non-nuclear commitment, saying the issue should be resolved in the framework of long-stalled, six-nation de-nuclearization talks. Iran, also believed to have a nuclear weapons program and be working with North Korea on nuclear and missile technology, issued a statement reiterating its official position that all weapons of mass destruction be destroyed.

The White House issued a statement on 12 February 2013, calling the test a highly provocative act that undermined regional stability, violated North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravened its commitments under the Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks made on 19 September 2005, and increased the risk of proliferation. The US position continued to be that North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to US national security and to international peace and security. The United States would remain vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region. Japan and South Korea were reported to have bolstered their defense capabilities following the test.

Also on 12 February 2013, an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council was held to discuss the test. The test was in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and international sanctions. The UN Security Council subsequently condemned the test as a “grave violation” of UN resolutions and said that it would immediately begin work on appropriate measures in a Security Council resolution.

In the US State Department's daily press briefing on 12 February 2013, Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that the DPRK had informed the State Department of their intention to conduct a nuclear test without citing any specific timing prior to the event and that the message had been trasmitted through the "usual channel."

China’s foreign minister called North Korea’s ambassador in to show its displeasure and demanded that Pyongyang cease further threats, a statement on the ministry's website said. Yang Jiechi delivered a “stern representation” to Ji Jae Ryong, expressing China’s “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to the test. "Yang Jiechi demanded that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea side cease talk that further escalates the situation and swiftly return to the correct channel of dialogue and negotiation,” the statement said. If Ji made any response, it went unreported. Yang said Beijing wanted a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and called for a return to long-stalled six-party denuclearization talks involving North Korea, China, the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. The ministry also called on North Korea not to "take additional actions that could cause the situation to further deteriorate."

Several Beijing-backed media organizations reiterated the ministry's statement in editorials. The official Xinhua news agency warned in a commentary that Beijing "was losing patience" with North Korea. Cutting aid to North Korea was one option, the agency said. "North Korea's third nuclear test is expected to pressure Beijing into getting tougher with its recalcitrant neighbor," it said. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po newspaper, which has close ties to China's ruling Communist Party, warned that Sino-North Korean friendship should not be allowed to become a burden on Beijing. However, Beijing has stopped short of announcing any concrete plans to punish Pyongyang.

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Page last modified: 04-04-2013 11:32:54 ZULU