A shallow 3.5-magnitude quake which hit North Korea near the country's nuclear test site Saturday was likely an aftershock from the hermit state's missile test on September 3, a nuclear test ban watchdog and other experts said.
Two seismic events recorded in North Korea were probably not caused by deliberate explosions, according to a nuclear watchdog. "In this case we saw none".
A US Pacific Command official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was "nothing to indicate this was anything other than natural".
China's natural disaster administration detected a 3.4-magnitude quake, which it called a "suspected explosion".
Under leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea has made rapid progress in its weapons programmes, and it launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July that appeared to bring much of the USA mainland into range.
North Korea said its recent nuclear test was a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles. On its website, the USGS said that it "cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event".
The latest alert comes amid heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula.
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"Diplomacy does not mean placing embargoes on seafood and textiles that will inflict more misery on the North Korean people", says Ewa Eriksson Fortier, a Swedish humanitarian worker with extensive experience in North Korea.
After the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, said President Donald Trump would "pay dearly" for threatening to "totally destroy" North Korea if the US were forced to defend itself or its allies against a North Korean attack, Kim's foreign minister told reporters his country's response to Trump "could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific". "The quake is small enough to suspect that it could have been caused by a tunnel collapse, and satellite data shows there have been many landslides in the area since the nuclear test". Beijing has by most accounts strictly enforced a ban on coal imports from North Korea, raising the chances that it will also stick to the broad restrictions in resolution 2375.
Once North Korea obtains nuclear state status, it will try to negotiate with the USA and South Korea for what it really wants.
In a series of meetings this week at the United Nations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reiterated to various foreign counterparts that apart from sanctions, the resolutions also call for dialogue to resume and that this needs to happen.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says North Korea's Kim Jong Un is "being tested" by the strongest sanctions ever put in place by the USA and the global community.
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. "The opening offer that the regime has offered is they want the United States to abandon their hostile policy toward North Korea".
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