South Korea says quake in North Korea was natural, contradicting China

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 24, 2017

North Korea "may launch ballistic missiles that would fly over our nation again in the future", Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters Tuesday.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake struck around 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from the North's nuclear test site, where earlier this month Pyongyang detonated its sixth and largest device, which it claimed was a hydrogen bomb capable of being launched on a missile. The test demonstrated that the US territory of Guam is now in attack range. The latest test was followed by a second magnitude 4.1 quake that experts said could have been caused by landslides or a tunnel collapsing after the explosion.

Hours earlier seismologists around the world had detected a small quake near North Korea's nuclear test site. The White House stated he also has a meeting scheduled with the South Korean president, which will focus on how to maximize economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

North Korea has conducted 15 missile tests in 2017 and more than 60 since Kim Jong Un took power in 2011.

The area isn't where natural earthquakes normally occur.

The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors nuclear tests, and officials of the South Korean meteorological agency also said they believed it was a natural quake.

US Air Force B-1B Lancer (top) assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, being joined by Republic of Korea air force F-15s, during a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula.

A USA government intelligence analyst said the events could have been a "mine-type" collapse of tunnels damaged by North Korea's previous nuclear test, but was more likely a small natural disaster.

"In this case we saw none. The Punggye-ri nuclear test site remains ready for a (new) test", the ministry said. We can not conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event. The last test registered as a 6.3 magnitude quake.

"No. 1, those missiles are not directly threatening any of us", he said.

The quake came at the end of a week that saw a blistering war of words between Kim and Trump, with the United States leader using his maiden speech at the UN General Assembly to warn that Washington would "totally destroy" the North if America or its allies were threatened.

He also said, without elaboration, that the Trump administration has military options against North Korea that would not put Seoul at risk.

He was referring to an accelerating series of missile tests by North Korea that have defied USA and worldwide warnings to stop.

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