Earthquake Detected in North Korea; China Suspects Nuclear Test

Posted September 25, 2017

Previous quakes from North Korea have indicated nuclear tests by the reclusive state, the most recent earlier this month.

A shallow 3.5-magnitude natural disaster which hit North Korea near the country's nuclear test site Saturday was likely an aftershock from the hermit state's missile test on September 3, a nuclear test ban watchdog and other experts said.

This raised fears of another nuclear test from the isolated state, but South Korea and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organisation - a nuclear proliferation watchdog - said they believed it was a natural quake. "In this case we saw none".

A US Pacific Command official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was "nothing to indicate this was anything other than natural".

China, North Korea's main trading partner, has backed successive rounds of United Nations sanctions over North Korean nuclear bomb tests, but has repeatedly said it is opposed to unilateral sanctions and especially "long-arm jurisdiction" over Chinese entities and individuals. The last test on Sept 3 registered as a 6.3 magnitude quake.

The council has told member countries to ban most activity overseas by North Korea's banks in response to its nuclear and missile tests.

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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.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that China is firmly committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during his speech at the General Debate of the 72nd session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

That came after he spoke at the United Nations where, in a speech, he said he would "totally destroy" North Korea if its nuclear program threatened the USA or its allies.

Hawaii officials have reportedly been urging residents to prepare for a nuclear attack, the stunning plea coming amid increasingly unnerving rhetoric - and actions - from North Korea.

The world hasn't seen an above-ground, atmospheric nuclear test since an inland detonation by China in 1980, and North Korea upending that could push the region dangerously close to war.

President Donald Trump is again assailing North Korea Kim Jong Un, saying that he "will be tested like never before".

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Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a "madman" on Friday, a day after Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" who would face the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history" in retaliation for Trump saying the USA would "totally destroy" North Korea if it threatened the United States or its allies. Beijing has by most accounts strictly enforced a ban on coal imports from North Korea, raising the chances that it will also stick to the broad restrictions in resolution 2375.

The ban on textiles, North Korea's second largest export, is expected to cost the country around $700 million a year.

China's central bank told the country's financial institutions that they are to cease all business with North Korea and obey United Nations sanctions, Reuters reported.

North Korea appears bound and determined to become a nuclear state complete with the means to deliver atomic death and destruction across thousands of miles.

South Korea's weather agency, however, offered a different view.

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