China’s earthquake administration says a magnitude 3.4 earthquake has been detected in North Korea, which it suspects was caused by an explosion.
The report has raised fears that the isolated state has tested another nuclear bomb. The Chinese administration said in a statement on its website that the quake was recorded at a depth of zero kilometres.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said the epicentre was in roughly the same place as a similar shallow earthquake on 3 September, which turned out to be caused by North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test.
Yet the South’s meteorological agency – which measured the earthquake as magnitude 3.0 – said it believed the quake was a natural event.
“We use several methods to tell whether earthquakes are natural or manmade,” an official, who asked for anonymity, said.
“A key method is to look at the seismic waves or seismic acoustic waves and the latter can be detected in the case of a manmade earthquake. In this case we saw none. So as of now we are categorising this as a natural earthquake.”
A secondary tremor detected after that test could have been caused by the collapse of a tunnel at the mountainous site, experts said at the time.
Satellite photos of the area after the 3 September quake showed numerous landslides that were apparently caused by the huge blast, which North Korea said was a hydrogen bomb.
Nuclear proliferation watchdog CTBTO was examining unusual seismic activity in North Korea, it said on Saturday.
“Analysts looking at unusual #seismic activity of a much smaller magnitude in the #DPRK,” CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo said in a Twitter post, adding more details were set to emerge later.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who is currently in New York for a United Nations meeting, warned on Thursday that Mr Kim could consider a hydrogen bomb test of an unprecedented scale over the Pacific.
Mr Ri told reporters in New York a test of “the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb” was one possible “highest-level” action against the US.
But he said that he did not know exactly what the North’s leader was planning. “We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong-un,” he added.
The quake comes amid heightened tensions around the Korean Peninsula after the North conducted a series of missile tests, firing two over Japan.
Donald Trump used a speech at the United Nations on Thursday to threaten to annihilate the isolated communist nation and derided the North’s leader as “a little rocket man”.
Mr Kim responded with an unprecedented personal statement in which he said Mr Trump would “pay dearly for his speech”.
Kim Jong-un inspects weapon North Korea says is powerful hydrogen bomb
Mr. Kim said Mr. Trump had insulted his country and he threatened to “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire”
Experts have Mr Kim’s statement carried added weight because it was unusually addressed to an international audience.
Credit goes to www.independent.co.uk