North Korea Confirms Third Nuke Test

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South Korean passengers watch TV news reporting North Korea's apparent nuclear test, at the Seoul train station on Feb. 12, 2013.
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North Korea confirmed it has successfully carried out an underground nuclear test of a new, "miniaturized" device in what it called a targeted response to US "hostility".

"A third nuclear test has been successfully staged," the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"The high-level nuclear test, unlike in the past, had more explosive power and involved a miniaturized and lighter atomic bomb and was staged safely and perfectly," KCNA said.

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The announcement that the device was "miniaturized" will set alarm bells ringing around the globe, with its suggestion that Pyongyang has mastered the technically complex process of producing a warhead small enough to fit on a long-range missile.

Proven miniaturization ability would take on added significance in the wake of December's rocket launch which marked a major step forward in the North's ballistic prowess.

The December launch was condemned in a UN Security Council resolution that also expanded existing sanctions against Pyongyang.

North Korea said the launch was a purely scientific mission to place a satellite in orbit, and the KCNA announcement said Tuesday's test was a direct response to the US proposed resolution.

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"The nuclear test was conducted as part of measures to protect our national security and sovereignty against the reckless hostility of the United States that violated our republic's right for a peaceful satellite launch," KCNA said.

South Korea moved quickly to condemn the test.

"This is an unacceptable threat to the security of the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia and a challenge to the whole international community," presidential national security adviser Chun Young-Woo told reporters.

"The North will face grave responsibility for such provocations," Chun said.