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Suspicious Earthquake Hits Near North Korea’s Nuclear Test Site

KCNA via REUTERS

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Unusual seismic activity was detected near North Korea’s nuclear test site Saturday.

China’s earthquake administration detected a 3.4-magnitude earthquake, which it called a “suspected explosion.” The blast occurred at 5:00 p.m. (Pyongyang time) just 30 miles from the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site in Kilju in North Hamgyeong Province. The recorded depth was zero, a common trait of nuclear tests.

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. That test produced seismic tremors with a magnitude around 6.1.

President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un are presently locked in a war of words, with each threatening the other. Trump warned that the U.S. will “totally destroy” North Korea, and Kim threatened to “tame the mentally-deranged dotard with fire.”

While China reports a possible explosion in North Korea, the South’s weather agency believes the quake was natural, noting that some of the characteristics of artificial earthquakes, specifically the sound waves, were not detected.

Analysts from the preparatory commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization are currently analyzing the data to sort out what is going on in reclusive North Korea. CTBTO says the tremors were unlikely man-made.

There are suspicions that the earthquake was caused by settling in the wake of the most recent nuclear test.

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