North Korea claims 'successful' nuclear warhead test

Seoul,  North Korea has successfully tested a nuclear warhead, it said today, drawing condemnation from the South which said the "maniacal recklessness" of young ruler Kim Jong-Un would lead to self-destruction.

Pyongyang's state media said the test, which comes after a series of ballistic missile launches that have drawn international condemnation and UN sanctions, had achieved its goal of being able to fit a miniaturised nuclear warhead on a
rocket.

"Our nuclear scientists staged a nuclear explosion test on a newly developed nuclear warhead at the country's northern
nuclear test site," a North Korean TV announcer said.

"Our... party sent a congratulatory message to our nuclear scientists... for conducting the successful nuclear warhead
explosion test," she said as the South judged it was the North's biggest test yet at 10 kilotons.

The move drew swift condemnation from US President Barack Obama who warned of "serious consequences" and said he had
called the leaders of South Korea and Japan to confer over the crisis.

President Park Geun-Hye spoke out against the "maniacal recklessness" of Kim, who since taking control after the death
of his father in 2011 has carried out a series of purges and weapons tests designed to show strength and consolidate power.

"Kim Jong-Un's regime will only earn more sanctions and isolation... and such provocation will further accelerate its path to self-destruction," Park said, warning his obsession with creating a nuclear arsenal posed a grave challenge.

"We will step up pressure on the North by using all possible measures, including more, stronger sanctions on the
North with the international community and at the UN Security Council," she said.

News of the test emerged when seismic monitors detected a 5.3-magnitude "artificial earthquake" early today near the
North's Punggye-ri nuclear site, where the last test took place in January.

"The 10-kiloton blast was nearly twice the fourth nuclear test and slightly less than the Hiroshima bombing, which was
measured about 15 kilotons," said Kim Nam-Wook from the South's meteorological agency.

If Pyongyang can make a nuclear device small enough to fit on a warhead, and bolster the range and accuracy of its
missiles, it might achieve its oft-stated aim of hitting US targets. But its claims to that in the past have been
discounted.

Scientists will now attempt to analyse the blast to try to determine what kind of a breakthrough it represents, including
whether it is a standard atomic bomb or a more powerful hydrogen, or thermonuclear, bomb. 

PTI