China experts say 3.4-magnitude quake hits North Korea in 'suspected explosion'

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 24, 2017

China's trade with North Korea rose in August to its highest since December 2016, data showed on Saturday, even after the United Nations slapped tougher sanctions on Pyongyang in a bid to choke off a third of its $3 billion in annual export revenue.

If North Korea attempts an atmospheric nuclear test at sea, it would likely involve its most powerful ballistic missiles, such as the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 or the intercontinental-range Hwasong-14, experts say.

Previous earthquakes in North Korea have indicated nuclear tests by the nation, which is at loggerheads with the U.S. and the rest of the worldwide community over its weapon development.

"The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to 5 km by the seismologist", USGS said.

Trump praised China on Thursday for what he said was instructions to its banks to cut off business with North Korea. The agency put the tremor at magnitude 3.0.

But the official from the South Korean agency said the analysis of seismic waves and the lack of sound waves clearly showed that the quake was not caused by an artificial explosion.

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho would not have spoken without approval from Pyongyang's top leadership when he suggested on Friday that the country could conduct an atmospheric hydrogen bomb test to fulfil the ambitions of premier Kim Jong-un.

The natural disaster could be the result of a cave in following the test earlier this month.

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

US President Donald Trump dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man" in a speech at the UN in which he threatened to "totally destroy" the North if it attacked the US or its allies.

China is North Korea's biggest trading partner and the country relies on it for much of its imports.

The natural disaster was detected in an area around Kilju, in north-east North Korea. The quake was centred near North Korea's nuclear test site.

Kim, in an unusual direct statement to the world, pledged hours earlier to take "highest-level" action against the United States in response to President Donald Trump's threat to "totally destroy" North Korea if provoked.

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