North Korea quake might have been explosion

24 September, 2017, 00:11 | Author: Essie Rivera

The US Geological Survey said on Saturday it could not conclusively confirm whether a magnitude 3.5 quake detected in North Korea was manmade or natural.

China's Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor.

The quake also caps a week in which President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un exchanged increasingly bellicose insults toward each other and follows a threat on Thursday by the North to carry out a significantly more unsafe nuclear test.

There seemed to be some initial difference of opinion, however, with Seoul's Korea Meteorological Agency (KMA) saying that it had registered a tremor of a similar size, but judged it a "natural quake".

The natural disaster was detected in an area around Kilju, in north-east North Korea.

After a week in which through tweets and a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Trump introduced the derogatory nickname "Rocket Man" for Kim into worldwide news coverage and left open his prerogative to "totally destroy" North Korea, the president gave no ground on Friday in his public standoff with his adversary's leader.

South Korea calls North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's direct rebuke of President Donald Trump a "reckless provocation" that would deepen his country's worldwide isolation and lead to its demise.

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

The standoff over North Korea's weapons development has intensified as its autocratic leader Kim Jong Un has accelerated his nation's development of a nuclear-tipped missile that could soon strike the continental United States.

"We will not seek unification by absorption or artificial means, if North Korea makes a decision even now to stand on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea together with the global community", he said.

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"This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean nuclear tests", the USGS said.

So-called atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons were banned by the USA, the then-Soviet Union and numerous world's nations in a 1963 treaty, though China conducted the last such test known worldwide in 1980. The quake was centred near North Korea's nuclear test site. On Thursday, the USA unveiled its own set of economic sanctions targeting North Korea.

North Korea's nuclear tests to date have all been underground, and 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 program.

In a rare direct statement, Kim said that Trump would "pay dearly" for the threats, and that North Korea "will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history".

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!"

"We have to assume they *could* do it, but it is exceedingly provocative", said Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency published articles Saturday with comments slamming Trump.

South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told reporters Friday that North Korea must immediately stop such a provocation and return to talks on its nuclear disarmament.

During his speech before the U.N. General Assembly earlier this week, Trump vowed to "totally destroy North Korea" if provoked.

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