Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

N. Korea claims nuclear success

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea announced today that it had successfully conducted its second nuclear test, defying international warnings and drastically raising the stakes in a global effort to get the recalcitrant Communist state to give up its nuclear weapons program.

The North's official news agency, KCNA, said the country had conducted an "underground" nuclear test as "part of measures to bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense."

The announcement came moments after the South Korean government's geological sensors had detected an artificially triggered tremor emanating from Kilju in northeast North Korea, said Lee Dong-kwan, spokesman for President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, which convened an emergency security session.

The spokesman said "intelligence officials of South Korea and the United States are analyzing the data and closely monitoring the situation."

Word of the nuclear test sent a shudder through Asian financial markets, with Korea's stock index plunging four percentage points within minutes.

North Korea conducted its first nuclear test on Oct. 9, 2006, and it had given some advance notice of its intention to test a device. That initial test also was in the northeast.

North Korea recently threatened to conduct a second nuclear test, citing what it called Washington's "hostilities" against the isolated Communist regime.

The test came against a backdrop of heightened tensions between North Korea and the United States, which keeps a heavy military deployment in South Korea.

Two American journalists are scheduled to be tried June 4 in North Korea, charged with illegal entry into the North and "hostile acts." That case in particular has aggravated tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, which were already strained after the North launched a long-range rocket on April 5.

After that launching, Washington pressed the U.N. Security Council to tighten sanctions on the North. In retaliation, Pyongyang expelled U.N. nuclear monitors, while threatening to restart a plant that makes weapons-grade plutonium and to conduct a nuclear test.

This month, one day after a U.S. diplomat offered new talks on North Korea's nuclear program, the North said it had become useless to talk further with the United States.

"The study of the policy pursued by the Obama administration for the past 100 days since its emergence made it clear that the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK remains unchanged," the North Korean Foreign Ministry said, using the initials for the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In comments carried by KCNA, the ministry said: "There is nothing to be gained by sitting down together with a party that continues to view us with hostility."

The rebuff came as Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy on North Korea, began a trip to Asia with a fresh offer of dialogue. The North's vow to "bolster its nuclear deterrent" came just hours before Bosworth was due to arrive in Seoul.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Andy Laine said the U.S. government had no confirmation of a new nuclear test.

"At this point we've seen the reports and we're trying to get more information, but we're not able to confirm at this time," Laine said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

N. Korea claims nuclear success 05/25/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 25, 2009 7:15am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84


    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.