Published: Sun, September 24, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Quake strikes North Korea near nuclear test zone; reasons unclear

Quake strikes North Korea near nuclear test zone; reasons unclear

A USA intelligence official and US-based non-governmental experts said their initial assessment was that the quake was either natural or connected to North Korea's latest and largest nuclear test on September 3, and not caused by a new nuclear test.

After several hours of uncertainty, Chinese and South Korean monitors concluded Saturday that seismic activity in North Korea was a natural event, and not a nuclear test.

In the past earthquakes in North Korea have indicated nuclear tests by the nation, which is now sparring with the United States over weapons capabilities.

Until now, the North has not tested its missiles and nuclear weapons together, opting instead to fire them separately - the missiles above ground and the nuclear weapons below.

On Friday, Donald Trump publicly branded the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a "rocket man" and said American "really had no choice" but to confront the authoritarian regime.

A German nuclear expert has warned of the destructive force that a putative North Korean nuclear bomb could unleash if Pyongyang were to go ahead and test one in the Pacific as the regime has threatened.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said in NY on Thursday hat Pyongyang may consider its most powerful test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.

And US bombers and fighter jets have flown along the coast of North Korea in a show of force.

But South Korea's meteorological agency said the incident appeared to be a natural quake.

China's earthquake administration said it had detected a magnitude 3.4 earthquake in North Korea that was a "suspected explosion", while an official at South Korea's meteorological agency said the initial view was that it was a natural quake.

Per the AP, the 3.4-magnitude quake would be much smaller than previous nuclear tests, the weakest of which generated a magnitude 4.3 quake and the strongest of which, the test this month, resulted in a magnitude 6.3 quake.

According to South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo, sources said after the September 3rd test, residents in the area were prohibited from traveling to the capital, Pyongyang, due to possible radioactive contamination.

Kim on Friday threatened the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history" in a tirade against Trump's warning that Washington would "totally destroy" the North if the United States or its allies were threatened.

Kim and Trump, missiles and sanctions, Russian Federation and China - here's why North Korea matters so much to the global jigsaw puzzle.

Washington announced tougher restrictions Friday aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programme, building on new tough United Nations sanctions aimed to choke Pyongyang of cash.

As earth-shaking booms are a natural feature of underground nuclear weapons testing, the quake led to suspicions North Korea had detonated yet another model of nuke-as it did earlier this month, sparking fears it had successfully developed a hydrogen bomb. It will also ban imports of textiles from North Korea.

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