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Summary

  1. North Korea has confirmed that it has carried out its fifth nuclear test
  2. The detonation caused a 5.3 magnitude earth tremor in North Korea
  3. Experts say it may well be North Korea's most powerful nuclear test yet
  4. The development has been widely condemned across the region

Live Reporting

By Joel Gunter, Dominic Howell, Helier Cheung, David Walker, Anna Jones and Samanthi Dissanayake

All times stated are UK

  1. Closing summary

    We are wrapping up our live coverage now. Below is a summary of the main points, and you can read the full story here:

    • North Korea has carried out a fifth nuclear test - thought to be its largest yet.
    • South Korea said the explosion carried out at 09:00 local time (01:30) BST was recorded as a 5.3 magnitude seismic event.
    • Estimates of the explosive yield of the blast have varied. South Korea's military said it was about 10 kilotonnes, enough to make it the North's "strongest nuclear test ever". Other experts say initial indications suggest 20 kilotonnes or more. By comparison, the bomb dropped by the US on Japan's Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of about 15 kilotonnes.  
    • US President Barack Obama said the international community had to "ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences".
    • South Korean President Park Geun-hye called it an act of "self-destruction" showing the "maniacal recklessness" of leader Kim Jong-un.
    • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country "absolutely cannot condone" any such test and would "protest adamantly" to Pyongyang.  
    • China and Russia also condemned the test.
  2. China reaction: 'Level two emergency response'

    BBC Monitoring

    News from around the globe

    State-owned Chinese broadcasters have been providing updates on whether North Korea's fifth test explosion has had a radiation effect on bordering Chinese provinces. 

    Phoenix TV said that after the explosion, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection immediately issued a "level 2 emergency response".

    However, official broadcaster CCTV says that as of 16:00 local time, the department's "DPRK nuclear test radiation levels had yet to impact the environment".   

  3. Could North Korea launch a nuclear attack?

    Protesters
    Image caption: North Korea's nuclear actions have become a cause of concern among its neighbours, especially South Korea

    North Korea has conducted several tests with nuclear bombs - but it's not clear if it's able to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on to a missile.

    There are also questions over whether the highly-secretive nation has ever tested a hydrogen bomb, as it claims, and whether it is using plutonium or uranium in its tests.

    Here's a round up of everything we know about North Korea's nuclear capability.

  4. Warnings of 'activity' appeared 24 hours before fifth test

    On Thursday 8 September the US-based North Korean analysis website 38 North published a report suggesting that there was "activity" at three portals near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea.

    The report said "mining carts" and some new tracks were visible.

    However, at the time, it said it was "unclear if this activity is directly related to preparations for a fifth nuclear test".  

    38 North describes its main objective as watching and monitoring nuclear capability within North Korea.

    Satellite image of North Korea
  5. A familiar face for the state announcement

    With precious little access to internet or TV outside the country, North Koreans rely on state TV channels for their news. And when it's time for a big announcement, they are usually greeted by a familiar face.

    Ri Chun-Hee, occasionally nicknamed the "harbinger of doom", made the official announcements of the deaths of Kim Il-sung in 1994 and Kim Jong-il in 2011.

    She announced her own retirement in 2012, but was brought back in January to announce that North Korea had carried out a hydrogen bomb test - although the use of a hydrogen device has been disputed by experts.

    And she appeared again on Friday, with her customary pink outfit and dramatic news-reading style, to announce the latest test. Watch a clip below. 

    Read more about her here.

    Video content

    Video caption: North Korea newsreader announces nuclear test
  6. US and Russia jointly condemn North Korea's fifth test

    Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

    The US Secretary of State John Kerry said: "Obviously Japan and South Korea, particularly, are deeply concerned because of the neighborhood. 

    "But I think it's fair to say China, Russia and the United States, everybody shares concerns about it.

    "At the appropriate moment today I'm confident President Obama will address [this] and we will certainly be discussing this in the context of the United Nations, for sure." 

    Mr Kerry made his comment during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the crisis in Syria.

    Mr Lavrov said: "I'm very much concerned and the resolution of the Security Council must be implemented and we must send this message very strongly."

  7. 'This is very much part of the play book of North Korea'

    John Nilson-Wright, the head of the Asia programme at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank, told the BBC the test was a "worrying confirmation that the North Koreans are intent on pushing forward with their military programme". 

    "This is very much part of the play book of North Korea. We've had warnings over the last year that the North was serious about testing a fifth nuclear device. 

    "It's also, I think, striking that this comes on the 68th anniversary of the founding of North Korea. Not only is the North trying to bolster its military capabilities, it's a way of showing the international community that it is resolute in pursuing its own agenda despite all the international criticism."

  8. France and Norway join international condemnation

    France has strongly condemned North Korea's fifth nuclear test and called on the United Nations Security Council to quickly face the issue, AP news agency reports. 

    France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described Friday's test as a "serious act which infringes the world's peace and security".

    He called the test "unacceptable".

    Meanwhile, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende also condemned the test, saying in a tweet that "this unacceptable action causes deep concern & threatens peace".   

  9. Morning summary: What we know so far

    • North Korea has carried out a fifth nuclear test - thought to be its largest blast yet.
    • South Korea said the explosion carried out at 09:00 local time or 01:30 BST was recorded as a 5.3 magnitude seismic event.
    • Estimates of the explosive yield of the latest blast have varied. South Korea's military said it was about 10 kilotonnes, enough to make it the North's "strongest nuclear test ever". Other experts say initial indications suggest 20 kilotonnes or more. The bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of about 15 kilotonnes.  
    • US President Barack Obama said the international community had to "ensure provocative actions from North Korea are met with serious consequences".
    • South Korean President Park Geun-hye called it an act of "self-destruction" showing the "maniacal recklessness" of leader Kim Jong-un.
    • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country "absolutely cannot condone" any such test and would "protest adamantly" to Pyongyang.  
    • China and Russia have also condemned the test.
  10. Test is 'demonstration of the toughest will of the DPRK'

    BBC Monitoring

    News from around the globe

    North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Institute has released a statement, which was read out on state news channel KCNA. Here's an excerpt:

    The nuclear warhead explosion test is a demonstration of the toughest will of the WPK [Workers' Party of Korea] and the Korean people to get themselves always ready to retaliate against the enemies if they make provocation as it is part of practical countermeasures to the racket of threat and sanctions against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] kicked up by the US-led hostile forces who have gone desperate in their moves to find fault with the sovereign state's exercise of the right to self-defence while categorically denying the DPRK's strategic position as a full-fledged nuclear weapons state.

    The DPRK will take further measures to bolster the state nuclear force in quality and quantity for safeguarding its dignity and right to existence and genuine peace from the US increasing threat of a nuclear war.

  11. The most powerful test yet? Comparing the quakes

    Seismologist Andy Frassetto has been comparing the movement detected on Friday by earthquake sensors with previous North Korea nuclear tests. 

    Seismic waves are not necessarily a reliable indication of power - the nature of the geology around the test can affect the strength of the signal - but this is certainly the largest shock detected on the day of a North Korea nuclear test.

    The below image shows Friday's seismic shock in red and the previous test, in January, in cyan.

  12. Japan 'cannot accept' nuclear test

    Japanese Defence Minister Tomami Inada said: "Considering that North Korea has developed missile technologies capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, it [the latest nuclear test] is a grave threat to the national security of Japan as well as the peace and security of north east Asia and the international community. 

    "We absolutely cannot accept it."

  13. Intelligence agency 'concerned' about nuclear missiles

    South Korea's intelligence agency is concerned that North Korea is advancing faster to miniaturise warheads on missiles, a lawmaker said after receiving an agency briefing on the North's latest nuclear test, Reuters news agency is reporting.

    Kim Byung-kee, a member of the South Korean parliament's intelligence committee, cited the spy agency as saying the North's nuclear test was intended to project a strong image of its leader, Kim Jong-Un, on the anniversary of the country's 1948 foundation as a republic, as well as to defy international sanctions.    

  14. A history of North Korea's nuclear tests - and how powerful they were

    Washington DC-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies has put together a chart showing the five North Korean tests, along with their estimated yields - the power released on detonation. 

    Friday's test is estimated at approximately 10 kilotonnes, according to the CSIS - equivalent to 10,000 tonnes of ordinary TNT explosive. For context, the bomb dropped on Japan's Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of approximately 15 kilotonnes.

    The largest nuclear weapon ever tested was the so-called Tsar-bomba, detonated by Russia in 1961. It produced a yield of 50 megatons, equivalent to 50 million tonnes of TNT.

  15. Russia 'resolutely condemns' North Korea test

    BBC Monitoring

    News from around the globe

    The North Korean nuclear test is regrettable and Russia resolutely condemns it, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry says.

    The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue should be approached more broadly and with the use of politico-diplomatic means, the source adds. 

  16. What did the other nuclear tests achieve?

    This is the fifth test initiated by the North. Each one has taken it closer to what decades of international talks have tried to prevent - a nuclear weapon in the hands of one of the world's most unpredictable states.  

    Here's a recap on what the other four tests achieved.

  17. International community should 'exercise restraint'

    In a commentary China's official Xinhua news agency said the North's fifth test was shocking and unwise and would only "add oil to the flames". 

    But it added that nobody benefited from chaos or war in Korea and all parties in the international community should exercise restraint and avoid doing anything that is "mutually irritating". 

  18. North Korea a 'normalised nuclear power'

    Dr Robert Kelly, who is professor of international relations at Pusan University in South Korea, told BBC News: "The primary significance of this is that North Korea is now more or less a normalised nuclear power.

    "This is the fifth test so there's not the sort of break out panic discussion that there was in the past.

    "This isn't really a big qualitative step forward, we know the North Koreans have had nuclear weapons for a while, and now they are continuing to do regular tests to prove it to us.

    "All this is designed to tell the rest of the world that they are not going to 'de-nuclearise'."

  19. Did any radiation leak as the test was carried out?

    China is carrying out radiation test along its border and Japan has sent out planes to take air samples. North Korea, however, has said that no radioactive material leaked from this blast. 

    In practice it can take some weeks to determine what might have escaped into the atmosphere and the nature of these particles. Once that happens, we'll have a better clue as to what could really happen.