Friday, September 9, 2016

Earthquake in North Korea may be isolated nation's biggest nuclear test yet

 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
The around magnitude 5 earthquake detected in North Korea on Friday was likely caused by an explosion, raising fears of a possible fifth nuclear test by the isolated nation.
The South Korean military said the magnitude 5.0 seismic wave would indicate a 10 kilotonne blast, which would be the isolated nation's largest ever, Yonhap reported.

Both Japanese and South Korean authorities said that they believed North Korea had conducted a nuclear test.
South Korea's "Blue House," the equivalent of the U.S. White House, said that the country's president, Park Geun-hye, said the North conducted a nuclear test, saying it proved the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, behaved with "maniacal recklessness."
Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said his country had protested to North Korea over the suspected test. The country's chief government spokesperson said Japan would like to consider further unilateral sanctions against North Korea. Japan is a frequent target of North Korea's aggression, with at least two missiles test-launched in its direction in recent months.

In the U.S., the White House's National Security Council said it was aware of the seismic activity and it was monitoring the situation in cooperation with regional partners.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) logged a magnitude 5 earthquake in North Korea, at a depth of 10 kilometers, at 9 a.m. North Korean time. The quake was about 349 kilometers southeast of Jilin in China, the EMSC said.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) also detected what it called an "explosion" that it said was 18 kilometers east-northeast of Sungjibaegam in North Korea.

"The wave form signal for an explosion and an earthquake have differences," Rafael Abreu, a geophysicist at the USGS, told CNBC. "Based on those differences, we are confident it was an explosion. But we can't say with any certainty what type of explosion."
He noted that the energy release was equivalent to a 5.3 magnitude earthquake.
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that the apparent earthquake was near a known North Korean nuclear test site and cited a South Korean government source as saying the quake could have been caused by a nuclear test. On Thursday Yonhap reported that new satellite imagery from U.S. monitoring group 38 North showed fresh activity at the country's nuclear test city in Punggye-ri.
Additionally, state TV reported that China had begun monitoring for radiation in its northeast region, near the border with North Korea.

In January, North Korea launched its fourth-ever nuclear test, which initially set off warnings of a shallow earthquake. North Korea claimed at the time that the device was a hydrogen bomb, which it called the "H-bomb of justice," although experts said that there was no evidence that the explosion was a hydrogen bomb..
The launch of a long-range rocket in February prompted even tighter United Nations sanctions against the country.

North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests in recent months, including a series of three missile tests on Monday as leaders of the Group of 20 nations held a summit in China.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called recent U.S.-South Korean military drills in South Korea, as well as plans for the South to host a U.S. anti-missile system called THAAD, a provocation.

Analysts at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University reported on their website in late August that based on its current missile activity, North Korea was on track to develop the capability of hitting targets in the region, including Japan, by 2020.
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