BEIJING — North Korea conducted its third test of a nuclear device Tuesday, raising fears of instability in Northeast Asia and new questions about whether the isolated authoritarian regime can be stopped in its decades-long effort to develop nuclear weapons.
The explosion was first suspected after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake was detected shortly before noon local time about 235 miles (380 km) northeast of the capital, Pyongyang, near the site of the country’s previous nuclear tests.
The Japanese Prime Minister’s office held an emergency session, saying, “There is a possibility that a nuclear test was conducted by North Korea based on the previous cases.”
About two hours later, North Korea’s state-run news service confirmed the test, which it said was conducted with a smaller and lighter device than previous detonations, “yet with great explosive power.”
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