Chinese, South Korean monitors say North Korea quake was natural, not nuclear

Lucy Hill
September 26, 2017

North Korean textile exports in 2016 totalled 750 million dollars (£555 million), according to South Korea's Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.

But Japan's Kyodo News earlier reported that a 3.4 magnitude natural disaster was detected at a depth of zero kilometres near the North's nuke test site, citing China's quake agency.

All six of North Korea's nuclear tests thus far, dating to 2006, have been conducted in underground tunnels.

After several hours of uncertainty, Chinese and South Korean monitors concluded Saturday that seismic activity in North Korea was a natural event, and not a nuclear test. On its website, the USGS said that it "cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event".

The U.S. Geological Survey and Japan's Meteorological Agency both detected the tremor but said they could not judge the cause.

In an escalation of the war of words between the United States and North Korea, Trump sent a pre-dawn tweet Friday saying, "Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!"

"It could be a natural quake that really was man-made as the nuclear test would have transferred a lot of stress", he said.

He says Trump's threat to totally destroy North Korea shows the president takes "very seriously" his responsibility to protect Americans.

Trump talks North Korea, signs new order
It also targets vessels that have been in a ship-to-ship transfer with a vessel that has visited North Korea within 180 days. Kim issued a statement Thursday evening, not backing down to Trump's hard-line stance.


Terming North Korea's latest violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions as a source of deep regret, the spokeswoman said, "We are convinced that now it is more important than ever before for all parties involved to stop escalating tensions that are accompanying every new round of reactions and counter reactions". 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.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists, says he thinks the North Korean threat is likely bluster, but if it happened "there's a real possibility" the USA would take military action in response, given the potential for an accidental detonation over a populated area and the potential threat to sea or air traffic. The larger one had a 3.4 magnitude, the group's initial assessment found, which is much smaller than anything declared as a nuclear test in previous years. He said that "we can not deny the possibility it may fly over our country".

Mr Trump delivered a combative speech on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly, where he mocked Kim as a "Rocket Man" on a "suicide mission".

Saturday's seismic activity came on the same day China announced it would limit trade with the North, reducing its fuel exports to its neighbor and banning all textile imports.

"We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the United States homeland and our allies".

North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency published articles Saturday with comments slamming Trump.

A ban on textile imports from the North will go into effect immediately, the statement said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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