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North Korean Quake 'Suspected Explosion' Says China While It South Korea Says Its Likely Natural

North Korean Quake 'Suspected Explosion' Says China While It South Korea Says Its Likely Natural
Fears that the isolated state of North Korea had conducted another nuclear bomb test weeks after its last one was raised after China’s earthquake administration said on Saturday that it had detected a magnitude 3.4 earthquake in North Korea that was a “suspected explosion”.
They were analyzing the tremor, which they put at magnitude 3.0, but the initial view was that it was a natural quake, said an official at South Korea’s meteorological agency.
“We use several methods to tell whether earthquakes are natural or manmade,” said the official, who asked for anonymity. “A key method is to look at the seismic waves or seismic acoustic waves and the latter can be detected in the case of a manmade earthquake. In this case we saw none. So as of now we are categorising this as a natural earthquake.”
The official said that North Korea’s known Punggyeri nuclear site is located at the Kilju county in North Hamgyong Province and the earthquake was detected in that region.
The quake, which occurred around 0830 GMT, was recorded a depth of zero kilometres, the Chinese administration said in a statement on its website.
Earthquakes of magnitude 4.3 or above were registered for all of North Korea’s previous six nuclear tests. The last test on Sept 3 registered as a 6.3 magnitude quake.
A that point in time, experts had said that the collapse of a tunnel at the mountainous site could have bene the reasons for the registering of a secondary tremor detected after that test. Numerous landslides apparently caused by the massive blast, which North Korea said was a hydrogen bomb were shown in satellite photos of the area after the Sept 3 quake.
Analysts were “looking at unusual seismic activity of a much smaller magnitude” in North Korea, and that it would have more details to come, said the head of the nuclear test monitoring agency CTBTO on Saturday.
Even though the news was widely reported by Chinese state media outlets and on social media, there was no immediate reaction from China’s Foreign Ministry.
Ever since Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear test, prompting a new round of U.N. sanctions, tensions have continued to rise around the Korean peninsula.
Kim could consider a hydrogen bomb test of an unprecedented scale over the Pacific, warned North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, currently in New York for a United Nations meeting.
A day after Kim dubbed him a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” who would face the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history”, the U.S. President Donald Trump called the North Korean leader a “madman” on Friday.
Experts say an atmospheric test, which would be the first since one by China in 1980, would be proof of the success of its weapons programme as North Korea’s nuclear tests to date have all been underground.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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