Timeline: North Korea’s six nuclear device tests

Timeline: North Korea’s six nuclear device tests
By Ingrid Cobben
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North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date on Sunday.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date on Sunday. Pyongyang claimed that they had tested a hydrogen bomb.


Several international monitoring agencies recorded the underground nuclear explosion. Japanese and South Korean officials said the tremor was about 10 times more powerful than the one detected after North Korea’s previous nuclear test a year ago.

Looking at the data, the earthquake magnitudes of the nuclear tests are ever-increasing, indicating that the weapons are becoming more powerful.

A recap of North Korea’s six nuclear tests

3 September 2017
North Korea said it successfully tested an advanced hydrogen bomb, marking a dramatic escalation in the state’s stand-off with the US over its nuclear weapons programme. This latest nuclear test has drawn international condemnation. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has warned North Korea that any threat to the US or its allies will be met with a “massive military response” and South Korea is ramping up its ballistic missile defences.

9 September 2016
Pyongyang confirmed it successfully conducted a nuclear test aimed at testing the power of its nuclear warheads. North Korean state television said the test elevated the country’s nuclear arsenal and was part of its response to international sanctions following its earlier nuclear test and long-range rocket launch in January and February. Experts believe it is the fifth test Pyongyang conducted so far.

6 January 2016
North Korea claims to have carried out its first successful test of a miniaturised hydrogen nuclear device. The announcement on North Korean state television followed the detection of a 5.1 magnitude earthquake at the Punggye-ri site in the north of the isolated country. Kim Jong-Un leads his nation in celebrating the hydrogen bomb test which the country claimed demonstrated a major breakthrough in its atomic weapons programme.

12 February 2013
Pyongyang confirmed that it used a miniaturised device that had a greater explosive force than previous tests. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned as “deplorable” North Korea’s third nuclear test. South Korea raised its military alert level after it detected seismic activity in an area where the north had conducted previous nuclear tests. The UN Security Council is held an emergency meeting later.

25 May 2009
North Korea confirmed that it detonated a second nuclear device, claiming to have raised its explosive power to a new level. A statement from the official news agency said the underground explosion was part of the republic’s measures to strengthen its nuclear deterrent. The government was furious that the UN had punished North Korea for firing a long-range rocket in April, seen by many in the West as a disguised missile test.

9 October 2006
There was a chorus of condemnation from world leaders following the news on North Korea’s nuclear test.NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said: “I cannot do anything else but condemn this and consider this an unacceptable move. Going back to the six-party talks, and stopping any development of nuclear weapons, is the way to go, and no other way.”

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