China says North Korean situation more serious by the day

Gladys Abbott
September 24, 2017

Chinese earthquake officials said the magnitude 3.4 quake detected on Saturday was a "suspected explosion" but both the CTBTO, which monitors nuclear tests, and a South Korean meteorological agency official said they believed it was a natural quake.

South Korea's meteorological agency said the quake was detected in Kilju county of Hamgyong Province, where North Korea's known Punggyeri nuclear site is located.

South Korea says Kim Jong Un's rebuke against U.S. President Donald Trump marked the first time a North Korean leader directly issued a statement to the worldwide community under his name.

North Korea carried out a massive nuclear test on 3 September which was widely condemned at the UN. Pyongyang later said it had tested a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto a missile-an assertion that no foreign government has so far confirmed.

The US Geological Survey said it could not conclusively confirm whether the quake, which it measured at magnitude 3.5, was man-made or natural.

Mr Trump's executive order expanded the Treasury Department's ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the USA financial system.

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The USGS also said it occurred in the nuclear test area but said its seismologists assessed it as having a depth of 5km.

While the cause remains unknown, alternative explanations suggested by North Korea analysts include tunnel collapses at the testing site.

A resolution to the North Korea issue can not only rely on sanctions and not talks, Wang said. Its leaders say nuclear capabilities are its only deterrent against an outside world seeking to destroy it.

Mr Trump also said China was imposing major banking sanctions, but there was no immediate confirmation from the North's most important trading partner.

The rare statement from the North Korean leader responded to Mr Trump's combative speech days earlier when he issued a warning of potential obliteration for the isolated nation, and mocked the North's young autocrat as a "Rocket Man" on a "suicide mission".

Saturday's detection comes at a time of rising tensions between the United States and North Korea, with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump engaging in an escalating war of words.

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