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North Korea's nuclear tests 'concerning'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/09/2016 Karen Sweeney

Countries should be deeply concerned about North Korea and it's "inherently unstable" leader Kim Jong Un after a fifth nuclear weapons test again defied United Nations orders, Prime Minister John Key says.

The tests are seemingly more effective, the failure rates are lower and the distances the weapons can reach appear to be growing, he told the reporters in the Federated States of Micronesia on Saturday.

A day earlier North Korea conducted a "higher level" nuclear warhead test explosion, which it trumpeted as finally allowing it to build "at will" an array of stronger, smaller and lighter nuclear weapons.

It is Pyongyang's fifth atomic test and the second in eight months, the Associated Press reports.

"He's in a part of the world which has real risk attached to it. It's not just the Korean Peninsula now, some of this capability would at least indicate he could move further afield," Mr Key said.

It's uncertain whether Kim Jong Un was just flexing his muscles to prove he has more nuclear capability than the world previously thought, or whether it's something more, he said.

"He's inherently unstable and also an unknown quantity so we just don't know entirely what we're dealing with here and that's the thing that I find a little bit disturbing."

Earlier Foreign Minister Murray McCully described it as a dangerous affront to the international community and a serious threat to regional security.

"It directly defies the UN Security Council, which has demanded that North Korea stop nuclear testing.

New Zealand absolutely rejects the testing of nuclear weapons and is strongly committed global disarmament and non-proliferation, he said.

South Korea's president called the detonation, which Seoul estimated had produced the North's biggest-ever explosive yield, an act of "fanatic recklessness".

North Korea, led by a third-generation dictatorship and wary of outsiders, protects its nuclear programme as a closely guarded state secret, and the claims about advancements made in its testing could not be independently verified.

North Korea said no radioactive material had leaked.

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