The big story of the day, as it should be (finally!) is the escalating rhetoric – and now actions – of Kim Jong-il. The NYT reports:
WASHINGTON, Monday, Oct. 9 — North Korea said Sunday night that it had set off its first nuclear test, becoming the eighth country in history, and arguably the most unstable and most dangerous, to proclaim that it has joined the club of nuclear weapons states.
The test came just two days after the country was warned by the United Nations Security Council that the action could lead to severe consequences.
American officials cautioned that they had not yet received any confirmation that the test had occurred. The United States Geological Survey said it had detected a tremor of 4.2 magnitude on the Korean Peninsula.
China called the test a “flagrant and brazen” violation of international opinion and said it “firmly opposes” North Korea’s conduct.
Senior Bush administration officials said that they had little reason to doubt the announcement, and warned that the test would usher in a new era of confrontation with the isolated and unpredictable country run by President Kim Jong-il.
Early Monday morning, even before the test was confirmed, Bush administration officials were holding conference calls to discuss ways to further cut off a country that is already subject to sanctions, and hard-liners said the moment had arrived for neighboring countries, especially China and Russia, to cut off the trade and oil supplies that have been Mr. Kim’s lifeline.
In South Korea, the country that fought a bloody war with the North for three years and has lived with an uneasy truce and failed efforts at reconciliation for more than half a century, officials said they believed that an explosion occurred around 10:36 p.m. New York time — 11:36 a.m. Monday in Korea.
FoxNews is reporting that a “senior administration official” has confirmed that NK comleted a successful test of a nuclear weapon:
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea completed a successful test of a nuclear weapon late Sunday night, a senior Bush administration official confirmed to FOX News.
The official said, however, that initial readings from South Korea reported only a 3.58-magnitude seismic reaction, which is smaller than what would be expected from the 4-kiloton explosion the communist nation sought. To put the bomb’s capabilities in context, a 20-kiloton explosion could conceivably kill 200,000 people.
“North Korea may not have got what they wanted,” the official said.
The U.S. Geological Survey, however, said it detected a 4.2-magnitude tremor at 10:35 p.m. EDT, which could mean the device was potentially deadlier than initially believed. Australia also said there was seismic confirmation that North Korea conducted a nuclear test.
“It was a success from their perspective in that they achieved a nuclear yield, though that is not very difficult,” the official said. “It’s within their technical capabilities.”
Josh Manchester, who I meet this weekend at the Carolina FreedomNet 2006, wrote a column back on the 6th about North Korea on the regime’s plans to conduct a nuke test. Make sure to read it. (Thanks to Lorie [in an update to Kim Priestap’s link roundup post] for the reminder)
I’m swamped this morning, so I won’t be able to keep up with updates on this story until this afternoon, so keep your browser ‘tuned’ to Hot Air, as I’m sure they will be all over it.
Update: Kim Priestap posts the the Prez will be commenting on North Korea’s actions at around 9:45 this morning.
PM Update: More from Josh: Was this nuke test a hoax?