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Quake detected near North Korean nuclear test site

23 September, 2017, 22:50 | Author: Jeff Stephens
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The U.S. Geological Survey said on Saturday it could not conclusively confirm whether a magnitude 3.5 quake detected in North Korea was manmade or natural.

The quake was detected in an area around Kilju, in north-east North Korea.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear weapons test to date earlier this month, detonating a staged thermonuclear weapon - a hydrogen bomb - with an explosive yield potentially in excess of 300 kilotons, much larger than anything the North has tested before.

China's quake administration said it was a magnitude 3.4 natural disaster and cited a "suspected explosion".

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Another official at the the Korea Meteorological Administration's command center said it is believed to have been a natural quake.

Two South Korean officials at the Korea Meteorological Administration told CNN that their analysis so far suggests Saturday's seismic activity around the nuclear site was not caused by an explosion or a collapse of the site. It measured the quake at 3.5 magnitudes on the Richter scale.

North Korea has launched dozens of missiles this year, several of them flying over Japan, as it accelerates a weapons programme aimed at enabling it to target the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.

Satellite photos of the area after the September 3 quake showed numerous landslides apparently caused by the massive blast, which North Korea said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.

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In two July flight tests, those missiles showed potential capability to reach deep into the USA mainland when perfected.

Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a "madman" on Friday, a day after Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged US dotard" who would face the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history" in retaliation for Trump saying the USA would "totally destroy" North Korea if it threatened the United States or its allies. The North has threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific. Since Kim came to power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in 2011, he has ramped up nuclear and missile weapon tests.

The US Geological Survey said it was unable to confirm whether the event was natural.

Earlier on Saturday, China said it will limit exports of refined petroleum products from October 1 and ban exports of condensates and liquefied natural gas immediately to comply with the latest United Nations sanctions. The euro fell against the dollar on Friday, retracing most of its previous day's gains as renewed flare-up of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington put pressure on euro. Yet it is still South Korea, and its capital Seoul close to the heavily militarized frontier with the North, that faces the greatest immediate risk in a military conflict.

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That South Korea is mitigating the worst of this harm risks fueling leading to a U.S. backlash, as the USA and South Korea have always been on different pages on North Korea, as to whether to continue escalating tensions or try diplomacy.

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