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Unconfirmed report: N.Korea nuke test;update: seismic activity detected; update: USGS reports 4.2 magnitudeUS intel officer: “More fizz than pop”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 8, 2006 10:51 PM

jongil.jpg

Via Yahoo! News/Reuters: An effigy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is burned by South Korean protesters at a rally in Seoul, denouncing North Korea’s nuclear weapon test October 9, 2006. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

***scroll for updates…U.N. has no immediate comment; emergency meeting scheduled Monday morning…Australian PM John Howard condemns NoKo test. “”North Korea is very gravely mistaken if she thinks this nuclear test will improve that country’s bargaining position,” Howard told parliament.”…Fox News reporting: “More fizz than pop,” according to intel official, but “provocative” nonetheless, according to White House…***

10/9 1258am Eastern update: James Rosen reporting for Fox News: US will push for strong Chapter 7 resolution at the UN Security Council to make it illegal to transfer missile technology of any kind to NoKo and general trade sanctions but not on oil…

Joshua Stanton at One Free Korea predicts:

I think this was an enormous miscalculation on North Korea’s part. The Republicans will be gleeful that no one will be talking about Mark Foley next week. The national conversation will be back to national security, and the Republicans will have the chance to do what they do best — act tough on such issues. President Bush will probably have no choice but to ignore the counsel of State Department doves who had nearly unopposed control of Bush’s North Korea policy until last August. Now, he’ll most likely use many of the options he didn’t use after North Korea’s July missile tests. I would expect some very severe sanctions and a move for a U.N. arms embargo. Stronger sanctions, along the lines of PATRIOT 311, are likely. A “soft” naval blockade, meaning enhanced enforcement under the Proliferation Security Initiative, is also likely.

White House brief statement expected overnight. Condoleezza Rice “working the phones.”

107am Eastern – latest AP dispatch:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that information still needs to be collected and analyzed to determine whether North Korea truly conducted its first nuclear test.

Japan’s top government spokesman said if confirmed, the North Korean test would post a serious threat to the stability in the region and a provocation.

China, the North’s closest ally, said Beijing “resolutely opposes” the North Korean nuclear test and hopes Pyongyang will return to disarmament talks.

U.S. and South Korean officials could not immediately confirm the report.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the alert level of the military had been raised in response to the claimed nuclear test.

112am update. South Korea to confer with Bush.

Bryan Preston:

It’s important to keep a couple of things in mind. As far as anyone outside North Korea knows, North Korea has yet to build a working ICBM. North Korea has short and medium range missiles capable of hitting South Korea and Japan, though. North Korea also has yet to miniaturize a nuclear weapon so that it can put one on even a faulty ICBM or shorter range missile. There is still time to contain this threat, even after tonight’s test, but some hard choices lie ahead for Japan and the US. Odds are that Japan will make the most of that time. We should too.

So far, all we’re doing is talking sanctions at the UN. Sanctions don’t work and certainly won’t change Kim Jong-Il’s behavior. North Korea is already the world’s most isolated state, and economic punishment may increase the likelihood of its selling weapons to terrorists to obtain hard currency. Kim Jong-Il will have to be either scared straight or taken out. A weak response to him now will embolden him and signal to the Iranians that we won’t stop them, either.

Washington Times highlights:

Reuters yesterday quoted a “source with close ties to Pyongyang” saying North Korean generals wanted to advance the date for a test, because of anger over published remarks by Beijing’s ambassador to the United Nations.

John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said last week that while Britain, France and Japan had made clear a strong statement was needed to warn Pyongyang against testing, he was not certain “what North Korea’s protectors on the [U.N. Security] Council are going to do.” In response, Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya said: “I’m not sure which country he is referring to, but I think that for bad behavior in this world no one is going to protect them.”

North Korean generals bristled at the notion of needing China’s protection and urged their leader, Kim Jong-il, to bring the test date forward, said the source who recently met with North Korean officials. “North Korea is especially unhappy with China,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “This is chauvinism. North Korea does not need Chinese protection.”

Speculation rose that a nuclear test would take place yesterday, the anniversary of Mr. Kim’s appointment as head of the Korean Workers’ Party in 1997.

Latest from FoxNews.com.

***
[10/8 10:51pm Eastern.] Drudge siren. Fox reporting. Allah monitoring: U.S. intel can’t confirm. 11:57pm Eastern update: James Rosen reporting on Fox: Learned from a senior Bush administration official, test confirmed. But the North Koreans “may not have gotten what they wanted…they were hoping for a test that would result in an explosion of 400 kilotons. Prelim reports show that it came in under that.” More: “US did indeed receive early warning from the Chinese.”

Yonhap News:

North Korea is believed to have tested a nuclear weapon in the eastern part of the country Monday morning, a South Korean defense source said.

“We detected the explosive sound from Hwadaeri near Kilju in North Hamgyong Province at 10:36 a.m.(KST),” a senior Defense Ministry official said, asking to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the information.

But South Korea’s military has yet to raise its alert level beyond usual defense situations, he said. The troops are still maintaining a Watchcon 3 surveillance status and Defcon 4 defense readiness status.


NoKo official statement
(hat tip – Dan Riehl):

North Korea said Monday it had conducted its first nuclear weapons test. The text of the announcement by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency follows. The formal name for North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or DPRK and KPA refers to the Korean People’s Army:

“The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.

“It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under scientific consideration and careful calculation.

“The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability.

“It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.”

11:52pm Eastern. Bret Baier of Fox News reporting that the US was warned by China, Japan, and South Korea before the reported test. Confirmation “looking more and more likely.”

Reminder of SecDef Donald Rumsfeld’s remarks on NoKo nuclear ramifications:

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday if North Korea successfully tests a nuclear weapon, it will show weakness on the part of the international community.

“And that failure … is something that the international community would have to register and ask itself how comfortable are we being that ineffective in this situation,” Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon during a visit by Croatian Defense Minister Berislav Roncevic.

His comments came as U.S. officials warned North Korea anew not to test a nuclear weapon…

…Rumsfeld also said that a successful North Korean test could prompt other countries to pursue nuclear weapons.

“Because of the ineffectiveness, and the lack of cohesion and the inability to marshal sufficient leverage to prevent North Korea from proceeding toward a nuclear program … it will kind of lower the threshold, and other countries will step forward with it,” Rumsfeld said.

He added that depending on whether the test is above or below ground, the United States has as good a capability of detecting it as any country. But he declined to say whether or not it would trigger any U.S. military action.

“I wouldn’t be the person who would make a decision like that. That’s a decision for the country, and a decision for president,” Rumsfeld said.

Bryan Preston’s thoughts from Friday:

Diplomacy isn’t going to stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. That’s the bottom line. North Korea sees nukes as its last best hope of survival, while the rest of the world (minus China and possibly Russia) see North Korean nukes as an intolerable threat. I don’t see a peaceful end to this. Either China deals with Kim, or we do. And it doesn’t look like we will.

Breitbart/AP has this headline:

North Korea Says Nuclear Test Successful
Oct 08 10:54 PM US/Eastern

Nothing further yet.

Austin Bay
looked at trouble on the China/N. Korean border earlier today. See also StrategyPage and the London Times. Austin from this morning:

I just heard a television report that North Korea is “reconsidering” its threat to test a nuclear weapon. Pyongyang wants face to face negotiations with the US in return for no detonation. This is an NoKo old demand, and a gimmick. The propaganda gimmick: if the US declines face to face negotiations then the NoKo test is the result of the US refusal. If the US agrees then Kim’s regime touts it as a huge dimplomatic victory, won by threatening nuclear war. In six or eight months, Pyongyang will pull the same extortion gambit once again.

Via CTV (hat tip – Dan Riehl):

North Korea has claimed to carry out what its neighbours have long feared — the test of a nuclear weapon.

“The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to our military and people,” said a quote carried Monday by the Korean Central News Agency, the communist state’s official agency.

The agency said there had been no radioactive leakage from the test site.

Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported that South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is huddling with his security advisers to plan a response.

However, the U.S. Geological Survey said it hasn’t detected any seismic activity on the Korean peninsula in the past 48 hours.

11:29pm update. Bloomberg has a few more details and context:

North Korea said it detonated its first nuclear bomb, hours after the Japanese and Chinese governments warned the communist country against proceeding with the test.

“The nuclear test, conducted under in a scientific method and under specific calculations, did not cause any danger,” North Korea’s official Korea Central News Agency said.

The South Korean presidential office began an emergency security meeting of its ministers at 11:30 a.m. Seoul time, according to officials at the presidential Blue House, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

North Korea announced the plan on Oct. 3 without giving the timing and now faces the prospect of the U.S. drafting a United Nations resolution that includes the threat of military action. The U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, on Oct. 4 pledged such a measure should North Korea detonate a nuclear weapon.

The North Korean test may set off an arms race in the region similar to the nuclear proliferation in South Asia, where India detonated two devices in May 1998, followed in the same month by Pakistan’s test of a bomb.

The North Korean test will compound efforts to get Iran to abandon its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies say is geared toward building a bomb. Iran says its nuclear program is intended only to produce energy.

North Korea’s threat as an exporter of weapons technology to terrorists or so-called rogue states would increase with a test, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Oct. 5…

… North Korea may have produced as many as six nuclear weapons from spent reactor fuel, U.S. officials estimated in 2004, according to a Congressional Research Service report on its atomic arms program dated May 25 this year. The Institute for Science and International Security said in a June 26 report that North Korea may have enough plutonium to make as many as 13 nuclear weapons.

The country drew international condemnation when it tested seven missiles on July 5, including the Taepodong-2, which U.S. officials have said may be able to reach Alaska. The UN Security Council on July 15 condemned the tests and barred the country from receiving missile-related technology.

Japan imposed some sanctions on the country after the test of the missiles. Japanese officials have also suggested the government should consider whether Japan’s pacifist constitution allows for a pre-emptive strike on North Korean missile bases.

Allah points to South Korean reports of seismic activity:

In Seoul a foreign ministry spokesman said South Korea’s intelligence agency has detected a 3.58-magnitude seismic tremor, following North Korea’s announcement of a nuclear test.

11:35pm EST – Fox says USGS is detecting radioactive (sic?) activity. No magnitude or location yet.

Jason Smith remembers a toast:

maddykim.jpg

11:43pm Eastern. China got a 20-minute warning, Fox reporting.
Here’s the USGS website.

Josh Trevino reflects:

I lived in Korea from 1983 through 1985. (I did not return for twenty years; an account of that experience is here.) The experience was a formative one. My father, a U.S. Air Force officer, was in a state of perpetual war-readiness I never saw stateside. And I had, by the beginning of my fourth grade year, experienced far more than my peers back home ever would: monthly air raid drills; tear-gassings; leftist students assaulting our housing compound; and most frightening of all, the perpetual threat of the North Korean war machine, a mere 25 miles away. This was more than a hypothetical danger in the Cold War atmosphere of the early 1980s: every time there was a border incident, a shootout at Panmunjom, or an aerial defection, we grew tense, and waited for the evacuation order that never came. It was wonderfully focusing for a young mind. But as the Cold War receded, so too did the consciousness of all Communist threats: even if some remained.

As the sun sets on our left coast, we face our first night in a world with a verifiable nuclear rogue state with ballistic missile capability. If you aren’t reading Claremont’s MissileThreat start now. This is a clear and present danger to the American homeland if there ever was one. For my part, I look to this era of nuclear rogue states with dread — Iran will not be far behind — and with sorrow for the little Korea where I once lived, and where I yet have friends. When the conflagration comes, it will burn as surely as night follows day. The puerile predator in Pyongyang will do no less. We have failed to prevent: now it falls to us to deter, and in time, avenge.

John Noonan at Op-For:

My source on the peninsula says that South Korea is -understandably- having a cow, same with Japan. And think of all the nations that are within the fallout range of a green-glowing, radioactive Korea. Russia, China, Vietnam, Japan, Cambodia, Taiwan, the list goes on.

And North Korean sugar-daddy China has even more reason to be seeing red (no pun). The last time the North pulled a stunt like this (launching an IRBM over the Japanese mainland) it sparked a massive Japanese defense buildup and lit a fire under America’s tail to get a missile shield operational, complicating Chinese plans for Taiwan.

Back then it was just one errant missile. Today we’re talking about a nuclear weapon. A nation killer. A world killer. And it’s in the hands of a man whose sanity is suspect and is worshipped as a god by an army of over one million.

Korea is simply too small of a theater to be playing with nuclear toys. You can bet your britches that the far east paradigm just shifted, big time. Let the arms race begin…

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