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Korean Mushroom Cloud Was Nuclear Test, Says Kim Jong Il
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PYONGYANG, North Korea - DPRK leader Kim Jong Il broke North Korea's silence Sunday on the explosion detected in its northern province of Ryanggang, resulting in a mushroom cloud over two miles in diameter. "In view of the danger we face in sharing the globe with an aggressor such as the United States," read Kim Jong on KCNA, "We felt we could no longer sit at the negotiating table while our enemies prepared for invasion on our soil. To prove our sincerity as well as our might, we launched this test of our nuclear arsenal. Let the world take note, and take heed."

"Kim Jong Il is no better than Saddam."
-- Secretary of State Colin Powell
Secretary of State Colin Powell called the admission "ludicrous, ill-timed, and patently false," pointing to mounting evidence that the explosion and resulting cloud was caused by conventional explosives, likely due to an accident. "Just when this closed nation should be exposing the area to national scrutiny in a bid for international aid to help it deal with the aftermath of this horrific blast, they are instead using it as a bargaining chip. Kim Jong Il is no better than Saddam."

Officials with KCNA, the North's official news agency, said that Powell was "misinformed" and that they "possess evidence that positively identifies the explosion as having resulted from a nuclear weapon test." The evidence is considered to be conclusive, but, said one official, "Release of the materials at this time would constitute a national security breach."

Seismograph stations surrounding North Korea report detecting the blast, but that the signature is not consistent with a nuclear test. "It registered more like an above-ground chemical explosives blast," reported one such station, "In fact, the signature suggests it was a timed series of twenty-five blasts, approximately one-half second apart." This lends credence to the theory that an outside agency entered North Korea and purposely sabotaged the site, thought to be a nuclear weapons research facility. "That would be an awful shame," said Powell, when asked about the possibility, "But it was a fairly inexpensive operation. I mean, it would be inexpensive. I assume. If that's what it was."
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