Published: Sat, September 23, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Bond prices, yen rise on North Korea concerns

Bond prices, yen rise on North Korea concerns

A magnitude 3.0 quake has been detected in North Korea around where a nuclear test recently took place but it has been assessed as natural, South Korea's weather agency said.

Jitters over a fresh exchange of barbs between North Korea and the United States drove up US Treasury prices and the yen yesterday while they damped sentiment in the US stock market.

Tensions have continued to rise since North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test on September 3, prompting a new round of United Nations sanctions.

But Japan's Kyodo News earlier reported that a 3.4 magnitude natural disaster was detected at a depth of zero kilometres near the North's nuke test site, citing China's quake agency.

All of North Korea's six nuclear tests registered as earthquakes of magnitude 4.3 or above.

Among its recent provocations, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile in late August and another earlier this month, with both missiles passing over Hokkaidō, northernmost Japan, before falling into the Pacific.

Pyongyang later said it had tested a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto a missile - an assertion that no foreign government has so far confirmed.

Kim vowed to take the "highest-level" action in response to US President Donald Trump's threat at the United Nations to "totally destroy" the North over its nuclear and missile programmes.

The quake comes after days of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's regime over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions that has raised global alarm.

The forceful rhetoric from Pyongyang came after Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea in a speech Tuesday to the General Assembly.

A secondary tremor detected after that test could have been caused by the collapse of a tunnel at the mountainous site, experts said at the time.

Trump has dubbed Kim a "madman" and sought to ratchet up sanctions against the isolated regime, which says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against the threat of invasion.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it could not conclusively confirm whether the quake, which it measured at magnitude 3.5, was man-made or natural.

China's official Xinhua News Agency had earlier designated the magnitude-3.4 quake in North Korea as a possible result of an explosion.

The ministers "shared the understanding that in terms of the response to North Korea's nuclear and missile problem, close coordination between South Korea and Japan, as well as between South Korea, the US and Japan, is important", the ministry said. It will also ban imports of textiles from North Korea.

US analysts now estimate that North Korea may have as many as 60 nuclear weapons, according to a Washington Post report.

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