The U.S. Geological Survey said it recorded a magnitude-4.2 seismic event in northeastern North Korea. Asian neighbours also said they registered a seismic event, but only Russia said its monitoring services had detected a nuclear explosion.

“It is 100 per cent (certain) that it was an underground nuclear explosion,” said Lt. Gen. Vladimir Verkhovtsev, head of a Defence Ministry department, according to Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency.

Although North Korea has long claimed it had the capability to produce a bomb, the test was the first manifest proof of its membership in a small club of nuclear-armed nations. A nuclear armed North Korea would dramatically alter the strategic balance of power in the Pacific region and would tend to undermine already fraying global anti-proliferation efforts.

“If the test (is) true, it will severely endanger not only Northeast Asia but also the world stability,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso warned.

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