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The Estimated Power Of North Korea's Latest Nuclear Test May Have To Be Revised Upwards, Japan Says

The country's defense minister said that — if new estimates of the size of the tremor caused by the test are correct — the bomb would undoubtedly be more destructive than those dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

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Japan's defense minister said on Tuesday that his government's original estimate of the power of North Korea's most recent nuclear test may have to be revised upwards.

Following a cabinet meeting, Itsunori Onedera said that he had heard that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization — the international organization tasked with verifying the ban on nuclear tests — could determine that the magnitude of the tremor caused by Sunday's test was larger than originally thought. It may be raised from a magnitude 5.8 tremor, to a 5.9 or 6.0.

Onedera said that, if this were the case, the Japanese Defense Ministry's estimate of the projected destructive capabilities and force of the North's bomb would also have to be revised upwards, and would undoubtedly surpass the power of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War, NHK reported.

Japan and the United States are continuing to conduct analyses following the North's sixth nuclear test on Sunday, Onedera said.

South Korean Defense Ministry / Getty Images

South Korea's military fires a ballistic missile in the sea during an exercise aimed at countering the North's latest nuclear test, Sept. 4.

On Monday, South Korea's intelligence agency told lawmakers that the North could be preparing to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards the North.

Seoul's spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, had a closed meeting with lawmakers on Monday morning.

"There is a possibility that the North could make additional provocations by firing an ICBM toward the North Pacific," Kim Byung-kee, a ruling party member of parliament who attended the briefing, told the media.

During the meeting, the NIS also reportedly said that further analysis is required in order to verify whether the bomb detonated during Sunday's test was a hydrogen bomb, as claimed by Pyongyang, or an electromagnetic pulse-based bomb, according to the Yonhap News agency.

South Korea itself fired ballistic missiles into the sea on Monday as part of an exercise to simulate an attack on the North's main nuclear test site. The country's Defense Ministry said the US would also station additional missile launchers to help counter the threat, AP reported.

US President Donald Trump and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in "agreed to maximize pressure on North Korea using all means at their disposal," in a telephone call on Monday, the White House said.

Trump gave his "in-principle approval" to South Korea’s initiative to lift restrictions on their missile payload capabilities and also gave his "conceptual approval" to the country to purchase "many billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons and equipment" from the US, the White House said.

Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, "is begging for war," Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told members of the UN Security Council at an emergency meeting on the country on Monday.

"His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war," Haley said. "War is never something the US wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory."

Haley said the US will circulate a draft resolution calling for increased sanctions against North Korea, the Associated Press reported. The resolution will be put to a vote next Monday, Haley said.

“I think that North Korea basically has slapped everyone in the face in the international community that has asked them to stop,” Haley said.

She urged members of the UN Security Council to "adopt the strongest possible measures" to deal with the regime's growing nuclear threat, adding that "enough is enough."

"The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it's too late," she said.

Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the regime's "reckless and dangerous behavior" in a call on Monday. "All options to address the North Korean threat are on the table," the White House said in a readout of the call.

Meanwhile, China has reacted furiously to Trump's tweeted threat to cease trade with any countries with commercial relations with Pyongyang. China is one of Pyongyang's only longstanding international allies and trading partners.

Geng Shuang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters at a briefing in Beijing on Monday that China would not accept "a situation in which on the one hand we work to resolve this issue peacefully but on the other hand our own interests are subject to sanctions and jeopardized. ... This is neither objective nor fair.”

Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Francis Whittaker at francis.whittaker@buzzfeed.com.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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