Here are some questions about North Korea’s nuclear programme and its impact on regional diplomacy and security:

Q. What does the new test mean in terms of N Korea’s nuclear development?

A. Despite doubts over the claim it was a hydrogen bomb, it still demonstrates the country’s commitment to carrying on with its nuclear programme.

It comes after three previous nuclear explosions between 2006 and 2013 and a boast last year the regime had developed a hydrogen bomb.

North Korea is continuing with their test programme without regard to what the world thinks, Christopher Hill, former US chief negotiator to the six-party talks aimed at the North’s denuclearisation, told the BBC. “We have a big problem regardless of how large the explosion was today,” Hill said.

Q. What does the test mean for int’l relations and diplomacy in NE Asia?

A. Most of all, it will mark a new low point in relations between North Korea and neighbouring China, which has been the country’s main diplomatic supporter for decades. Beijing’s patience has run increasingly thin as it strongly opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear development and sees it as a factor for instability on the Korean peninsula, where it has strong trade relations with N Korean rival South Korea.

Q. Why now?

A. Kim, who has carried out numerous purges of senior officials since coming to power after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, is believed to constantly need to solidify his power base and demonstrate achievements even greater than those of his father and grandfather, North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung.

The announcement also comes just two days before his January 8 birthday and also in advance of an expected congress of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party - the first such gathering in 35 years. “The purpose of this is firstly to display to the world that it has acquired a new technology as to the nuclear weapons programme,” said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo and an expert on North Korea .

Q. What’s next?

A. Past North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile tests have been followed by condemnatory United Nations Security Council resolutions and additional sanctions.

Diplomats said that the UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting on North Korea on Wednesday. “This clearly violates UN Security Council resolutions and is a grave challenge against international efforts for non-proliferation,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. AFP