Published: Sun, September 24, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Earthquake Detected Near North Korea's Nuclear Test Site

Earthquake Detected Near North Korea's Nuclear Test Site

A magnitude 3.4 tremor was detected in North Korea, China's natural disaster agency said, while a South Korean weather agency said it was not triggered artificially.

Monitoring groups estimate that the nuclear test conducted in North Korea earlier this month had a yield of 250 kilotons, which is 16 times the size of the United States bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said North Korea might conduct an H-bomb test with a medium-range or intercontinental ballistic missile, given its recent advances in missile and nuclear weapons development.

Saturday's reports of seismic activity come at a time of rising tensions between the United States and North Korea, with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump engaging in an escalating war of words over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

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 global isolation and lead to its demise.

The area isn't where natural earthquakes normally occur. The last test registered as a 6.3 magnitude quake.

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.

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 programme.

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The United States Geological Survey was neutral in its assessment on the cause of the tremor, which it recorded as a 3.5 magnitude quake, saying in a statement that it could not "conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event".

North Korea's foreign minister said this week that his country could test a powerful nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean in response to President Donald Trump's threats of military action.

U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by fighter jets flew in global airspace over waters east of North Korea on Saturday, in a show of force the Pentagon said demonstrated the range of military options available to President Donald Trump. North Korea's recent missile launches over Japan especially drew stern rebukes from Tokyo and the worldwide community.

Earlier Friday, Kim issued a rare statement calling Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats to destroy North Korea.

"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!"

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, now in NY for a United Nations meeting, warned Thursday that the North could conduct a test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun says North Korea should stop provocations that would "lead to its own isolation and demise".

"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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