Tremor detected near North Korea weapon test site

Tremor detected near North Korea weapon test site

A shallow 3.5-magnitude quake 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.

South Korea's weather service has rejected a claim that a recent quake in North Korea was caused by an explosion, saying it was a natural tremor.

So when the China Earthquake Administration reported a 3.4-magnitude tremor on Saturday afternoon and attributed it to a "suspected explosion", the news immediately set off alarm bells.

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

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The September 3 detonation followed two intercontinental ballistic missile launches in July that brought Kim Jong Un's isolated regime a step closer to achieving its aim of being able to deploy a nuclear warhead over the continental U.S.

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.

The move escalated tensions with the US and North Korea's neighbors, and this week its foreign minister said the regime's options included testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

So-called atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons were banned by the US, the then-Soviet Union and numerous world's nations in a 1963 treaty, though China conducted the last such test known worldwide in 1980.

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The incident comes amid heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula, and a day after Donald Trump publicly branded Korean leader Kim Jong Un a "rocket man", telling audiences that American "really had no choice" but to confront the Pyongyang regime. It is wary of the fallout it would suffer if North Korea imploded, and it wants to preserve a buffer between itself and the United States forces based in South Korea. Satellite photos of the area after the Sept 3 quake showed numerous landslides apparently caused by the massive blast, which North Korea said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.

Wilbur Ross thinks that the People's Bank of China telling Chinese banks to stop doing business with North Korea was a "very powerful message".

In a series of meetings this week at the United Nations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reiterated to various foreign counterparts that apart from sanctions, the resolutions also call for dialogue to resume and that this needs to happen.

"The North has a long track record of manufacturing and selling drugs overseas and it is a convenient fallback for the regime to ratchet up production when sanctions are stepped up and it is harder for them to export legitimate goods", said Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor of worldwide relations at Tokyo's global Christian University. Western Intelligence services blamed the 2014 attack against Sony on North Korea's spy agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

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A ban on Chinese textile imports will also be implemented in line with the latest UNSC sanctions, a major source of foreign currency for Pyongyang. Given that North Korea will continue its efforts to become a nuclear state, and given that military options are not viable, we may have to find a way to live with a nuclear North Korea.

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