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North Korea detonates 'its biggest-ever nuke': Huge earthquake at nuclear testing site

Daily Mail
September 9, 2016


US, European and Chinese monitoring agencies are reporting a 5.0-5.3-magnitude quake near North Korea's nuclear test site amid fears the regime has conducted its second nuclear test this year.

There was no immediate confirmation Friday of a nuclear test, which such seismic activity has previously indicated.

But the 'artificial quake' was 'highly likely' to be the result of a nuclear detonation, n unnamed government source told South Korea's Yonhap news agency. And if so it would be the country's biggest yet.

The quake has been placed at between 5.0 and 5.3 on the Richter scale by various agencies, with the United States Geological Survey giving it the highest estimate.

According to Yonhap it suggested a bomb with a yield of approximately 10 kilotonnes - if so, that would be the country's biggest nuclear explosion so dar.

For comparison, Hiroshima's 12-15 kilotonne load obliterated five square miles of the city.

US, European and Chinese agencies all picked up the tremor at 12:30am GMT, at surface level.

The earthquake was detected near the country's only nuclear testing site, Punggye-ri, which has hosted all four of the country's confirmed nuclear tests so far.

South Korea's Defense Ministry said Friday it could not immediately confirm the cause; the country's weather agency said it was analyzing the data.

But the US Geological Service and the China Earthquake Networks Center both reported a suspected 'explosion' in the area.

And Japan"s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a briefing in Tokyo: 'We believe it"s possible that North Korea carried out a nuclear test.

'The meteorological agency detected seismic waves that are probably not from a natural earthquake.'

The quake comes ahead of Friday's National Day, which celebrates the founding of North Korea - a period in which the country usually flexes its military muscles.

And there had been increased talk of a nuclear test after the US blacklisted Kim on July 6 for human rights abuses.

In January this year, Kim Jong Un claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb - which can be hundreds of times more powerful than nuclear devices - at Punggye-ri.

However, Lee Cheol Woo, who is on South Korea's intelligence committee, said at the time that the resulting 5.1-magnitude quake was too small to have come from such a device, and was more probably a nuke.

That would suggest that whatever the origin of today's earthquake was, it wasn't a hydrogen bomb.

North Korea is under an international ban on developing and testing nuclear and missile technology - but has flouted that ban several times in the past few years.

The country aims to develop a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the US mainland.


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