Quake detected near North Korea nuclear test zone 'occurred naturally'

Cheryl Sanders
September 23, 2017

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.

The quake comes after days of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un's regime, which has raised worldwide alarm.

"A key method is to look at the seismic waves or seismic acoustic waves and the latter can be detected in the case of a manmade quake", said the South Korean official, who asked for anonymity.

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 U.S. bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

"This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean nuclear tests", the USGS said.

The North's last test, on September 3, was the country's most powerful detonation, triggering a much stronger 6.3-magnitude quake that was felt across the border in China. North Korea has one nuclear test site - Punggye-ri.

A second tremor soon after that test was possibly caused by a "cave-in", CENC said at the time.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it could not conclusively confirm whether the quake, which it measured at magnitude 3.5, was manmade or natural.

China has announced it will limit oil exports to North Korea under United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile development, further reducing support from Pyongyang's last major trading partner, energy supplier and diplomatic ally.

The European Union (EU) has reportedly produced a new package of sanctions against North Korea over its continued nuclear and missile provocations.

The first sign Pyongyang has conducted a nuclear test is usually seismic activity.

Exports of refined petroleum to the North will be limited to 2 million barrels per year and sales of liquefied natural gas banned outright, effective January 1, the Commerce Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho spoke to reporters in NY, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Petroleum exports for use in the North's ballistic missile program or other activities are banned by United Nations sanctions, the Commerce Ministry said.

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