North Korea workers in China celebrated nuclear test, report says

TOKYO, Sept. 12 (UPI) — North Korean laborers in China were celebrating Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test, according to a Japanese press report.

State-dispatched North Korean workers in a special economic zone in Jilin Province were toasting the successful nuclear test on Saturday, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Monday.

The North Korea-sanctioned economic zone includes more than 3,000 North Korean workers, including young North Korean women.

When approached by an Asahi reporter, the women said they were “happy” about the nuclear test results.

A North Korean industry official on site also said North Korean men bought themselves a round of alcohol beverages to toast the universally condemned nuclear test.

But Chinese authorities have stepped up security along the North Korea border since the test, and more checkpoints were placed near the Chinese border city of Hunchun, according to the report.

The Asahi also mentioned North Korea appears to be still struggling to recover from a devastating flood that has destroyed tens of thousands of homes and that a Chinese national interviewed by the newspaper said he thinks there’s “no reason North Koreans could be happy about the nuclear test when there are suffering from damage due to heavy rains.”

In China, eyewitnesses said they felt vibrations in their homes at the time of the explosion. In the Chinese city of Yanji, a school for elementary school students had to be evacuated.

But some Chinese locals blamed the United States’ tough North Korea policy for the test, the Asahi reported.

Washington has repeatedly urged North Korea to take steps toward denuclearization but Pyongyang has refused to go unrecognized as a nuclear power.

North Korea’s weapons program has become increasingly sophisticated. Pyongyang appears to have the ability to successfully miniaturize a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a ballistic missile, according to Tokyo.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that since 2006, when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, it is “highly likely” North Korea has acquired the miniaturization technology in a relative short period of time, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun on Monday.

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