North Korea has confirmed that its nuclear testing is continuing with its third underground test at noon local time, the most powerful to date. The move has been condemned internationally, but that's been the case so far and it hasn't stopped the country from pursuing its nuclear ambitions.The explosion was enough to register as a 4.9-magnitude earthquake in the region nearby. The tremor was detected internationally by seismographs before North Korea confirmed the test.
The country claimed that the latest device was more powerful but lighter than previous ones and that its tests were done with utmost regard to safety and the ecosystem. North Korea set off nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.
The fear is that the country is getting closer to creating a nuclear device small enough to be mounted on the rockets it's also been developing.
The country is said to have enough plutonium to build up to a dozen warheads. It has also been working on enriching uranium, which is easier to obtain, to use in nuclear weapons.
North Korea says it was forced to respond to "violent" actions by other countries, particularly the US, which are preventing it from developing its peaceful satellite program.
The country made its first successful satellite launch late last year. Though the satellite doesn't appear to be operational, it is in a stable orbit. The launch was widely criticized and even tougher sanctions on the country were imposed as a result.
The UN condemned the new nuclear test as did US president Barack Obama who urged the international community to do more to stop North Korea.
There were some clear signs that North Korea was preparing a new nuclear test in the last few weeks, as officials from South Korea, Japan and the US said earlier.
It's unclear what the international response will be. The US is asking for "swift and credible action" and the UN Security Council seems to agree.
Any action will be met with resistance from China, North Korea's only ally and the biggest trading partner. China itself asked North Korea to show "restraint" with its nuclear program.