They did it.
North Korea said Sunday night that it had set off its first nuclear test, becoming the eighth country in history, and arguably the most unstable and most dangerous, to proclaim that it has joined the club of nuclear weapons states.
The test came just two days after the country was warned by the United Nations Security Council that the action could lead to severe consequences.
Nations across the world condemned the test today, and an emergency meeting of the Security Council was set to take up the issue this morning.
China, Pyongyang’s closet supporter, called it a “flagrant and brazen” violation of international opinion and said it “firmly opposes” North Korea’s conduct.
In Russia, which shares a short border with North Korea, officials reacted with dismay and condemnation. “Russia absolutely condemns North Korea’s nuclear test,” President Vladimir V. Putin said in televised remarks during a meeting with his senior government ministers.
Senior Bush administration officials said that they had little reason to doubt the announcement, and warned that the test would usher in a new era of confrontation with the isolated and unpredictable country run by President Kim Jong-il.
What form that confrontation would take was not yet clear. Last week, the administration’s special envoy for North Korea issued a stern warning to Pyongyang not to go ahead with its threatened test, saying “’We are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea.”
The world response over the next 48-hours could change life as we know it. This is no time to play a war of words. Severe action must be taken against the DPRK government. If not, Iran will consider this event their green light to proceed with nuclear weapon development.
MORE: Hot Air
UPDATE: Bush statement