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Summary

  1. North Korea has confirmed that it has carried out its fifth nuclear test
  2. The detonation caused a 5.3 magnitude earth tremor in North Korea
  3. Experts say it may well be North Korea's most powerful nuclear test yet
  4. The development has been widely condemned across the region

Live Reporting

By Joel Gunter, Dominic Howell, Helier Cheung, David Walker, Anna Jones and Samanthi Dissanayake

All times stated are UK

Closing summary

We are wrapping up our live coverage now. Below is a summary of the main points, and you can read the full story here:

  • North Korea has carried out a fifth nuclear test - thought to be its largest yet.
  • South Korea said the explosion carried out at 09:00 local time (01:30) BST was recorded as a 5.3 magnitude seismic event.
  • Estimates of the explosive yield of the blast have varied. South Korea's military said it was about 10 kilotonnes, enough to make it the North's "strongest nuclear test ever". Other experts say initial indications suggest 20 kilotonnes or more. By comparison, the bomb dropped by the US on Japan's Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of about 15 kilotonnes.  
  • US President Barack Obama said the international community had to "ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences".
  • South Korean President Park Geun-hye called it an act of "self-destruction" showing the "maniacal recklessness" of leader Kim Jong-un.
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country "absolutely cannot condone" any such test and would "protest adamantly" to Pyongyang.  
  • China and Russia also condemned the test.

'Peace is best form of defence'

Here's a tweet from environmental NGO Greenpeace:

View more on twitter

China reaction: 'Level two emergency response'

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

State-owned Chinese broadcasters have been providing updates on whether North Korea's fifth test explosion has had a radiation effect on bordering Chinese provinces. 

Phoenix TV said that after the explosion, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection immediately issued a "level 2 emergency response".

However, official broadcaster CCTV says that as of 16:00 local time, the department's "DPRK nuclear test radiation levels had yet to impact the environment".   

Could North Korea launch a nuclear attack?

Protesters
AP
North Korea's nuclear actions have become a cause of concern among its neighbours, especially South Korea

North Korea has conducted several tests with nuclear bombs - but it's not clear if it's able to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on to a missile.

There are also questions over whether the highly-secretive nation has ever tested a hydrogen bomb, as it claims, and whether it is using plutonium or uranium in its tests.

Here's a round up of everything we know about North Korea's nuclear capability.

Warnings of 'activity' appeared 24 hours before fifth test

On Thursday 8 September the US-based North Korean analysis website 38 North published a report suggesting that there was "activity" at three portals near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea.

The report said "mining carts" and some new tracks were visible.

However, at the time, it said it was "unclear if this activity is directly related to preparations for a fifth nuclear test".  

38 North describes its main objective as watching and monitoring nuclear capability within North Korea.

Satellite image of North Korea
38 North

A familiar face for the state announcement

With precious little access to internet or TV outside the country, North Koreans rely on state TV channels for their news. And when it's time for a big announcement, they are usually greeted by a familiar face.

Ri Chun-Hee, occasionally nicknamed the "harbinger of doom", made the official announcements of the deaths of Kim Il-sung in 1994 and Kim Jong-il in 2011.

She announced her own retirement in 2012, but was brought back in January to announce that North Korea had carried out a hydrogen bomb test - although the use of a hydrogen device has been disputed by experts.

And she appeared again on Friday, with her customary pink outfit and dramatic news-reading style, to announce the latest test. Watch a clip below. 

Read more about her here.

North Korea newsreader announces nuclear test

US and Russia jointly condemn North Korea's fifth test

Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
Reuters

The US Secretary of State John Kerry said: "Obviously Japan and South Korea, particularly, are deeply concerned because of the neighborhood. 

"But I think it's fair to say China, Russia and the United States, everybody shares concerns about it.

"At the appropriate moment today I'm confident President Obama will address [this] and we will certainly be discussing this in the context of the United Nations, for sure." 

Mr Kerry made his comment during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the crisis in Syria.

Mr Lavrov said: "I'm very much concerned and the resolution of the Security Council must be implemented and we must send this message very strongly."

'This is very much part of the play book of North Korea'

John Nilson-Wright, the head of the Asia programme at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank, told the BBC the test was a "worrying confirmation that the North Koreans are intent on pushing forward with their military programme". 

"This is very much part of the play book of North Korea. We've had warnings over the last year that the North was serious about testing a fifth nuclear device. 

"It's also, I think, striking that this comes on the 68th anniversary of the founding of North Korea. Not only is the North trying to bolster its military capabilities, it's a way of showing the international community that it is resolute in pursuing its own agenda despite all the international criticism."

France and Norway join international condemnation

France has strongly condemned North Korea's fifth nuclear test and called on the United Nations Security Council to quickly face the issue, AP news agency reports. 

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described Friday's test as a "serious act which infringes the world's peace and security".

He called the test "unacceptable".

Meanwhile, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende also condemned the test, saying in a tweet that "this unacceptable action causes deep concern & threatens peace".   

Norway condemns the nuclear test carried out by #NorthKorea This unacceptable action causes deep concern & threatens peace - @borgebrende

Morning summary: What we know so far

  • North Korea has carried out a fifth nuclear test - thought to be its largest blast yet.
  • South Korea said the explosion carried out at 09:00 local time or 01:30 BST was recorded as a 5.3 magnitude seismic event.
  • Estimates of the explosive yield of the latest blast have varied. South Korea's military said it was about 10 kilotonnes, enough to make it the North's "strongest nuclear test ever". Other experts say initial indications suggest 20 kilotonnes or more. The bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of about 15 kilotonnes.  
  • US President Barack Obama said the international community had to "ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences".
  • South Korean President Park Geun-hye called it an act of "self-destruction" showing the "maniacal recklessness" of leader Kim Jong-un.
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country "absolutely cannot condone" any such test and would "protest adamantly" to Pyongyang.  
  • China and Russia have also condemned the test.

Test is 'demonstration of the toughest will of the DPRK'

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Institute has released a statement, which was read out on state news channel KCNA. Here's an excerpt:

The nuclear warhead explosion test is a demonstration of the toughest will of the WPK [Workers' Party of Korea] and the Korean people to get themselves always ready to retaliate against the enemies if they make provocation as it is part of practical countermeasures to the racket of threat and sanctions against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] kicked up by the US-led hostile forces who have gone desperate in their moves to find fault with the sovereign state's exercise of the right to self-defence while categorically denying the DPRK's strategic position as a full-fledged nuclear weapons state.

The DPRK will take further measures to bolster the state nuclear force in quality and quantity for safeguarding its dignity and right to existence and genuine peace from the US increasing threat of a nuclear war.

The most powerful test yet? Comparing the quakes

Seismologist Andy Frassetto has been comparing the movement detected on Friday by earthquake sensors with previous North Korea nuclear tests. 

Seismic waves are not necessarily a reliable indication of power - the nature of the geology around the test can affect the strength of the signal - but this is certainly the largest shock detected on the day of a North Korea nuclear test.

The below image shows Friday's seismic shock in red and the previous test, in January, in cyan.

Seismogram of today's M5.3 explosion in North Korea compared to their nuclear test from 8 months ago.

Seismogram of today's M5.3 explosion in North Korea compared to their nuclear test from 8 months ago.

Japan 'cannot accept' nuclear test

Japanese Defence Minister Tomami Inada said: "Considering that North Korea has developed missile technologies capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, it [the latest nuclear test] is a grave threat to the national security of Japan as well as the peace and security of north east Asia and the international community. 

"We absolutely cannot accept it."

Intelligence agency 'concerned' about nuclear missiles

South Korea's intelligence agency is concerned that North Korea is advancing faster to miniaturise warheads on missiles, a lawmaker said after receiving an agency briefing on the North's latest nuclear test, Reuters news agency is reporting.

Kim Byung-kee, a member of the South Korean parliament's intelligence committee, cited the spy agency as saying the North's nuclear test was intended to project a strong image of its leader, Kim Jong-Un, on the anniversary of the country's 1948 foundation as a republic, as well as to defy international sanctions.    

A history of North Korea's nuclear tests - and how powerful they were

Washington DC-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies has put together a chart showing the five North Korean tests, along with their estimated yields - the power released on detonation. 

Friday's test is estimated at approximately 10 kilotonnes, according to the CSIS - equivalent to 10,000 tonnes of ordinary TNT explosive. For context, the bomb dropped on Japan's Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of approximately 15 kilotonnes.

The largest nuclear weapon ever tested was the so-called Tsar-bomba, detonated by Russia in 1961. It produced a yield of 50 megatons, equivalent to 50 million tonnes of TNT.

W/ reported 5th #NorthKorea #NuclearTest this AM, @CSIS took a look at what we know from 5 tests so far @VictorDCha

W/ reported 5th #NorthKorea #NuclearTest this AM, @CSIS took a look at what we know from 5 tests so far @VictorDCha

Russia 'resolutely condemns' North Korea test

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

The North Korean nuclear test is regrettable and Russia resolutely condemns it, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry says.

The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue should be approached more broadly and with the use of politico-diplomatic means, the source adds. 

What did the other nuclear tests achieve?

This is the fifth test initiated by the North. Each one has taken it closer to what decades of international talks have tried to prevent - a nuclear weapon in the hands of one of the world's most unpredictable states.  

Here's a recap on what the other four tests achieved.

International community should 'exercise restraint'

In a commentary China's official Xinhua news agency said the North's fifth test was shocking and unwise and would only "add oil to the flames". 

But it added that nobody benefited from chaos or war in Korea and all parties in the international community should exercise restraint and avoid doing anything that is "mutually irritating". 

North Korea a 'normalised nuclear power'

Dr Robert Kelly, who is professor of international relations at Pusan University in South Korea, told BBC News: "The primary significance of this is that North Korea is now more or less a normalised nuclear power.

"This is the fifth test so there's not the sort of break out panic discussion that there was in the past.

"This isn't really a big qualitative step forward, we know the North Koreans have had nuclear weapons for a while, and now they are continuing to do regular tests to prove it to us.

"All this is designed to tell the rest of the world that they are not going to 'de-nuclearise'."

Did any radiation leak as the test was carried out?

China is carrying out radiation test along its border and Japan has sent out planes to take air samples. North Korea, however, has said that no radioactive material leaked from this blast. 

In practice it can take some weeks to determine what might have escaped into the atmosphere and the nature of these particles. Once that happens, we'll have a better clue as to what could really happen.

Test follows H-bomb test claim in January

This test comes just nine months after a test in January that North Korea said had been of a hydrogen bomb, a considerably more potent weapon. Many experts, however, believed the North had failed in its ambition in that instance. Here's more about that.

South Korea's security council meets

South Korea's Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn chaired an emergency National Security Council from where a strident statement was issued.  Very shortly after the "artificial quake" was first detected, it became clear what it could mean and South Korean politicians were quick to meet.

A handout photo provided by the South Korean presidential office on 09 September 2016 of Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn (2-R) presiding over an emergency meeting of the National Security Council at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, Seoul, 09 September 2016,
EPA

The quality of China's condemnation

China's foreign ministry has expressed "firm opposition", as  reported earlier. But what some analysts are pointing out is that there is no indication if  China would take any immediate action or support new sanctions and that it stops short of a full-blooded condemnation. But how much further sanctions can go is unclear.   

An observation on the flight paths around the North

North Korea's 'clear violation'

Director General Yukiya Amano
Reuters

Here's a bit more from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) statement that was mentioned earlier.

The IAEA is the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations and it promotes the peaceful use of atomic energy while trying to make sure that the technology is not used for military purposes.  

Its Director General Yukiya Amano added: "This is in clear violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community." 

It's a sentiment that has been expressed before and the statement goes on to cite the relevant UN resolutions. The key now is how hard the UN can come down on the North.

Five things to look out for from this test

With every nuclear test, scientists and diplomats are on the lookout for certain signs. Analyst Bruce Bennett lists here the  top five things of significance to consider - from the yield of the blast to what this could mean for China's policy towards its recalcitrant neighbour. 

From speculation to confirmation

Welcome if you're just joining us. A few hours ago North Korea confirmed what many had suspected - that the earthquake detected in its north-east was a test of a nuclear device, its fifth and what appears to be its biggest ever. 

North Korea says it is now able to mount a nuclear bomb onto a ballistic missile, meaning it could carry out a nuclear attack. There's no way at the moment of confirming that claim. 

Our main story on the test is here but we'll keep bringing you minute-by-minute coverage from around the world on this live page. 

Thirty-seven missile tests

'Troubling and regrettable act'

The International Atomic Energy Agency says the test is a "deeply troubling and regrettable act".

Director general Yukiya Amano writes: "I strongly urge the DPRK to fully implement all relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA."

"We remain ready to contribute to its peaceful resolution by resuming our verification activities in the country once a political agreement is reached among countries concerned."

North Korea's nuclear test 'protects dignity'

BBC Steve Evans in Seoul says the blast represents a "development of technology" for North Korea.

As ever, the news was reported via an announcer with a "jubilant tone" he says. The announcer said the test would "protect the dignity and existence of the country".

KCNA claims a significant advance

This is the standout line from the North Korea (DPRK) statement on the test. 

It says it will enable it to "produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power with a firm hold on the technology for producing and using various fissile materials".

"This has definitely put on a higher level the DPRK's technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic rockets."

Unusual seismic waves

There's a pattern to North Korea nuclear tests. The first indication is always reports of earthquake in the area around the test site, then the news it was "artificial". Strong suspicions it was an underground nuclear blast are then confirmed by government statements.

With no images from the actual site, we tend to see a lot of picture of people pointing at graphs. What these do is show quite how sudden - and unlike natural earthquakes - the seismic waves generated by the blasts are. 

South Korean official points at seismic waves
EPA

Images filed from streets of Pyongyang

A man sits and watches news of the nuclear test unfold outside Pyongyang station in the North Korean capital. There will be little relayed to the outside world of how the people of North Korea have really received this test. 

A North Korean man watches a news report regarding a nuclear test on a large screen outside the Pyongyang Station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016
AP

'Unanimous condemnation'

French President Francois Hollande has just become the latest leader to condemn the test, saying the UN must address "this violation of its resolutions", AFP reports. 

"The international community must unite against this new provocation which comes after unanimous condemnation by the Security Council of the ballistic missile tests by North Korea on Monday."

South Korea to 'closely monitor' markets

On the economic side of things, South Korean officials have said the government will closely monitor financial markets and guard against geopolitical risks linked to North Korean actions, promising to take measures to stabilize markets if needed, the Reuters news agency reports.

US warns of 'serious consequences'

Here's more from President Obama, who has been speaking to his Japanese and South Korean counterparts. 

The White House says he "reiterated the unbreakable US commitment to the security of our allies in Asia and around the world". 

"The President indicated he would continue to consult our allies and partners in the days ahead to ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences." 

The Russians who felt tremors

From BBC Monitoring: Russia's Rossiya 1 TV says residents in eastern Maritime Territory felt a minor quake as North Korea tested its nuclear device. 

A representative of a local meteorological service told privately owned news agency Interfax that the radiation level in Maritime Territory - the only Russian region bordering North Korea - remains normal .

A reminder of the crises in North Korea

'Critical test' for China

Richard N Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, has tweeted:

View more on twitter

China warns North Korea

China's foreign ministry has issued a statement, saying it firmly opposes North Korean nuclear tests. 

It warned Pyongyang against any activity which will worsen the situation on the Korean peninsula.