Overnight, reports of a manmade earthquake began to come out of the Pacific region, and it has since been confirmed it was the result of an underground nuclear test by North Korea, the fifth such test in the nation’s history. North Korea claimed it to be their “highest level” test yet.
Though it’s impossible to verify North Korea’s claims on the test, and oftentimes such claims don’t prove to be true, North Korea claimed that this latest test was part of an effort to “standardize” on a design for a nuclear warhead capable of being mounted on a missile. Previous tests are believed to have all been much too large to be usable.
US officials were quick to blast North Korea’s test as a “provocation,” and President Obama issued a statement vowing to never accept North Korea as a nuclear state. The US retains some 28,500 ground troops in the Korean Peninsula, and is still technically in a state of war with North Korea from the last Korean War.
North Korea has sought negotiations to end the state of war with both South Korea and the US, but has been repeatedly rejected, with US officials saying they don’t want to “reward” North Korea while it continues to conduct nuclear tests. At the same time, being at war with such a large nuclear power as the US is doubtless driving much of the impetus to continue to tests in the first place.