WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) — North Korea‘s fifth nuclear test drew an immediate response from the White House on Friday as the United States Air Force planned to dispatch a radiation sniffer plane to collect air samples and debris.
President Barack Obama condemned the blast as a provocation that would be met with “serious consequences,” according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
The test produced a 5.3-magnitude quake at the Punggye-ri nuclear site.
Earnest said the president was on Air Force One returning from his trip to Asia when he was briefed on the unexpected blast.
Obama also discussed by phone next-step responses with his counterparts in South Korea and Japan and said the United States and its allies will work together on a countermeasure, according to the White House.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service has stated the 10-kiloton explosion was not a test of a hydrogen bomb but added Pyongyang is likely to conduct its sixth and seventh nuclear tests at “any time.”
In the aftermath of the fifth test, the U.S. Air Force is planning to dispatch a radiation sniffer plane to measure the blast through samples of radioactive substances that typically linger in the atmosphere after a nuclear blast, CNN reported.
The Air Force plans to deploy the WC-135 Constant Phoenix to collect the samples. In January the military also dispatched the plane to measure radioactive material after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test.
Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency said it did not detect any changes in the amount of radiation in the country’s atmosphere or territory. No major changes in the atmospheric presence of xenon were detected but most likely because radioactive substances are less likely to be released into the atmosphere in the case of an underground nuclear test, according to the agency’s statement.
The WC-135 Constant Phoenix will be dispatched from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.