North Korea quake not a nuclear test, say China experts

An air defence system missile flies towards a mock enemy target during the joint Russian Belarusian military exercises at a training ground near the village of Volka some 200 km southwest of Minsk
Mattis Says Diplomacy Best Course Against North Korea
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25 September, 2017

China's quake administration said Saturday it had detected a magnitude 3.4 natural disaster in North Korea that was a "suspected explosion", raising fears the isolated state had conducted another nuclear bomb test.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that exports of condensate oil, liquefied natural gas as well as textile imports from the North are now prohibited. "In this case we saw none".

Did North Korea test another nuclear bomb?The question is up in the air after an quake was detected to have struck in North Korea today.

North Korea's weakest nuclear test, the first one conducted in 2006, generated a magnitude 4.3 quake.

Jeffrey Lewis, the director of an East Asia program at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies, told The New York Times that if North Korea were to lose China's support, "the last thing you would do in that situation is give up your independent nuclear capability".

A secondary tremor detected after that test could have been caused by the collapse of a tunnel at the mountainous site, experts said at the time. Because Chinese is the main trading partner with North Korea anyway.

However, initial assessment of the quake differed widely, with the Chinese natural disaster administration saying that it had detected a magnitude 3.4 natural disaster in North Korea that was a "suspected explosion".

"Two #Seismic Events! 0829UTC & much smaller @ 0443UTC unlikely Man-made! Analysis ongoing", CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo said in a Twitter post.

Russia's emergency ministry says background radiation in nearby Vladivostok was within the natural range. A South Korean expert said the quake could have been caused by geological stress created from the recent nuclear explosion. "The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to five kilometres by the seismologist", USGS said in a statement.

Vessels and aircraft that have visited North Korea in the past 180 days are prohibited from entering USA under the new sanctions.

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The agency said the quake occurred around Kilju in north-eastern North Korea, about 20 kilometres south-east of the site of a nuclear test earlier this month.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the council it is "a practical way out" and stressed that China had "made tireless efforts for settlement to the North Korean issue".

Ri is due to address the United Nations later on Saturday.

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.

North Korea's foreign minister later said that could be a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean if Kim orders it.

South Korea on Friday welcomed the United States' adoption of fresh sanctions on North Korea and vowed to pile further pressure on the communist country if it continues with provocations.

China has moved to limit North Korea's oil supply and will stop buying textiles from the politically isolated nation, it said on Saturday.

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

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.


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