Published: Sun, September 24, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Can not confirm if North Korea quake natural or man-made: USGS

Can not confirm if North Korea quake natural or man-made: USGS

China's quake administration has said 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.

There have been concerns about the stability of the nuclear test site since the September 3 test. Website 38 North said satellite imagery taken after that test appeared to show landslides atop the site that were more numerous and widespread than after the previous five tests.

But on the fringes of the United Nations meeting this week, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho upped the tensions further, telling reporters Pyongyang might now consider detonating a hydrogen bomb outside its territory.

Chinese earthquake officials said the magnitude 3.4 quake detected on Saturday was a "suspected explosion" but both the CTBTO, which monitors nuclear tests, and a South Korean meteorological agency official said they believed it was a natural quake.

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North Korea under Kim Jong-un's leadership has launched dozens of missiles as it accelerates a program aimed at enabling it to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.

In a different response, South Korea's main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) urged the Moon Jae-in government to stop "begging for dialogue" with North Korea, saying peace can be achieved only when backed by power. One thing North Korea is extremely good at is absorbing pain.

The briefing comes after President Donald Trump announced he was signing an executive order granting the Treasury Department more authority to enforce sanctions on Pyongyang.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously imposed nine rounds of sanctions on North Korea since 2006, the latest this month capping fuel supplies to the isolated state.

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South Korea says Kim Jong Un's rebuke against U.S. President Donald Trump marked the first time a North Korean leader directly issued a statement to the global community under his name.

The USGS also said it occurred in the nuclear test area but said its seismologists assessed it as having a depth of 5km.

More generally on global security issues, SIPRI noted positive developments such as the entry into force of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and a United Nations General Assembly resolution to start negotiations in 2017 on eliminating nuclear weapons.

Exports of refined petroleum to the North will be limited to 2 million barrels per year and sales of liquefied natural gas banned completely effective 1 January, China's commerce ministry said.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned Pyongyang's missile and nuclear "adventures" but warned "military hysteria is not just an impasse, it's a disaster".

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