A North Korea nuclear test over the Pacific? Logical, terrifying

by Garry Watts September 24, 2017, 0:09
A North Korea nuclear test over the Pacific? Logical, terrifying

A magnitude 3.4 natural disaster, at a depth of 0 kilometers, has been recorded near the Kilju area in the North Hamgyeong Province of North Korea, according to the China quake Networks Center.

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.

In comments to reporters in New York, North Korea's foreign minister said his country's leader is considering whether to demonstrate his ability to detonate a nuclear warhead aboard a missile sent above the Pacific Ocean. The USGS measured this month's nuclear test at magnitude 6.3.

The quake, which South Korea put at magnitude 3.0, was detected in Kilju county in North Hamgyong Province, where North Korea's known Punggyeri nuclear site is located, the official said. "So as of now, we are categorising this as a natural quake".

"We will not seek unification by absorption or artificial means, if North Korea makes a decision even now to stand on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea together with the global community", he said.

More generally on global security issues, SIPRI noted positive developments such as the entry into force of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and a United Nations General Assembly resolution to start negotiations in 2017 on eliminating nuclear weapons.

Saturday's quake follows an escalation of the combative rhetoric between the North Korean and United States leaders this week.

There seemed to be some initial difference of opinion, however, with Seoul's Korea Meteorological Agency (KMA) saying that it had registered a tremor of a similar size, but judged it a "natural quake". Satellite photos of the area after the Sept 3 quake showed numerous landslides apparently caused by the massive blast, which North Korea said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.

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North Korea's weakest nuclear test, the first one conducted in 2006, generated a magnitude 4.3 quake.

The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.

As North Korea develops nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the islands, Hawaii state lawmakers have been urging emergency management officials to update Cold War-era plans for coping with a nuclear attack.

On Thursday Trump announced new US sanctions that he said allow targeting of companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said Friday that three European airlines partially changed their routes linking Japan and Europe in the wake of North Korea's repeated missile launches.

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.

North Korea "must immediately cease making reckless choices that could lead to its own isolation and downfall and choose the path of dialogue", Moon said.


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