WASHINGTON- On Friday, the 68th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, the rogue regime carried out its fifth and largest nuclear test.
According to some estimates, the blast from the nuclear warhead mounted to a ballistic missile was more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
“That’s the largest DPRK test to date, 20-30 kiloton at least. Not a happy day,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told Reuters.
South Korea’s President, Park Geun-hye, called the test an act of “fanatic recklessness.” President Barack Obama condemned the launch and said in a statement, “the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state.”
Members of the United Nations Security Council will discuss the test at a closed-door meeting on Friday.
The Hermit Kingdom’s latest test comes just four days after it fired ballistic missiles in violation of UN Security Council resolutions (again). On Monday just after noon local time, North Korea launched three medium-range Rodong-class ballistic missiles from a region called Hwangju, according to South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Monday’s launch came hours after Park and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit meeting.
During the meeting, Xi, Pyongyang’s closest ally, reaffirmed China’s commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
Xi added that Beijing still opposes the future deployment of America’s most advanced missile-defense system to the region.
China argues that since the bilateral decisionbetween Seoul and Washington to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, North Korean missile tests have expandedand are poised to rise.
Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, downplayed the potential for a rise in tests due to THAAD, telling Business Insider, “I would not say that, North Korea has conducted more missile tests this year than ever before and their pace of testing has gone up dramatically.”
“The United States and South Korea have been looking at this very closely for a number of years and THAAD is the solution that the head of US Forces Korea forces has been recommending,” Karako added.
“It’s about time that the two allies are moving forward on a more capable and more robust defensive posture in addition to the limited Patriot deployments we have today.”
“North Korea appears to be on the cusp of significant advances towards longer range missiles, mobile and potentially sea launched missiles. So the missile threat isn’t going down, it’s going up and I think you’re gonna see increased missile defense activities from the United States, Japan and South Korea,” Karako added.
Monday’s launch came two weeks after the rogue regime fired a submarine-based missile off the country’s eastern coast, near the city of Sinpo.
Pyongyang first attempted a submarine-based missile launch last year and again at the end of April this year.
In early August, the rogue regime simultaneously launched two “No Dong” intermediate-range ballistic missiles.
According to US Strategic Command, one of the missiles exploded immediately after launch, while the other was tracked over North Korea before ultimately landing in the Sea of Japan. Notably, this was the first time that the rogue nation had targeted Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described the launch as a “grave threat” to Japan and said that Tokyo “strongly protested.” Japan also said that its self-defense force would remain on alert in case of further defiant launches from the North.
So far this year, North Korea has conducted a little more than 13 rounds of ballistic-missile tests and has fired 29 various rockets.