After hours of uncertainty, Chinese and South Korean monitors concluded late on Saturday that seismic activity in North Korea was a natural event, and not a nuclear test.
South Korea’s weather agency reported a magnitude 3.4 earthquake in an area of North Korea where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but assessed the seismic activity as natural.
“The quake is presumed to have occurred naturally,” an agency official said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
“A sound wave, which is usually generated in the event of an artificial earthquake, was not detected.”
The Korea Meteorological Administration said the activity occurred in Kilju in North Hamgyeong province. The site is near where North Korea on September 3 conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in what it said was the detonation of a thermonuclear weapon.
Likewise, China’s Earthquake Networks Centre said an analysis by the seismic service found that the quake “is a natural one”, Xinhua, China’s official news agency, reported.
Officials with The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation also said their initial analysis is that the quake was unlikely to be man-made.
The seismic activity was reported against a backdrop of growing tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile intentions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to take the “highest-level” action in response to President Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” the North over its nuclear and missile programmes.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said in New York on Thursday that Pyongyang may consider its most powerful test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
“This could probably mean the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean,” he told reporters in response to a question about what action the North Korean regime might take against the US.