North Korea quake might have been explosion

Nuclear Warhead Buildup Continues in Four Countries, Claims Watchdog

Numerous scientific agencies on both sides of the Pacific detected an quake Saturday near the site where North Korea set off a hydrogen bomb earlier this month, at first prompting speculation of another weapons test, before a consensus appeared to emerge that the tremor was a natural occurrence.

To comply with a UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions over North Korea's nuclear activity, China said Friday that it will limit its exports of refined petroleum products to Pyongyang as well as ban imports of the North's textiles.

The flight, which was disclosed shortly before North Korea's foreign minister was due to address the United Nations, was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea that any US fighter jet or bomber has flown in the 21st century, the Pentagon said.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, now in NY for a United Nations meeting, warned Thursday that the North could conduct a test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

There have been concerns about the stability of the nuclear test site since the September 3 test. Website 38 North said satellite imagery taken after that test appeared to show landslides atop the site that were more numerous and widespread than after the previous five tests.

Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said such a test would be worse than testing a longer range for an intercontinental ballistic missile, which is another scenario the North may be considering.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said that it detected a magnitude 3.5 quake in the area of previous North Korean nuclear tests, but that it was unable to confirm whether the event was natural.

The quake was detected in an area around Kilju, in north-east North Korea. The locations are around 50 kilometers away (more than 30 miles) from the site of previous nuclear tests, the group said.

"If it doesn't go exactly as planned and the detonation occurs at a lower altitude we could see some EMP-like effects for anything in the area".

Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that the quake was caused by a "suspected explosion" at the site, while Yonhap reports, that as of right now, "it is presumed to be a natural quake". The quake was centred near North Korea's nuclear test site.

The standoff over North Korea's weapons development has intensified as its autocratic leader Kim Jong Un has accelerated his nation's development of a nuclear-tipped missile that could soon strike the continental United States.

Tensions have continued to rise around the Korean Peninsula since Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear test, prompting a new round of United Nations sanctions.

SIPRI listed North Korea as not having any deployed warheads but with 10 to 20 "other warheads" which include "operational warheads held in storage and retired warheads awaiting dismantlement".

Trump said the United States would "totally destroy" North Korea if it threatened the United States or its allies.

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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