Report: North Korea tests another nuclear weapon

An earthquake located near a North Korea nuclear test site may be an indication of another nuclear detonation.


A magnitude 3.4 tremor was detected in North Korea, China's earthquake agency said, while a South Korean weather agency said it was not triggered artificially.

The tremor occurred at 4.29 p.m. China time and had a depth of zero meters, the China Earthquake Networks Center said in a statement, adding it was a suspected blast. South Korea's weather agency said in a statement on its website that the tremor was a natural occurrence, though it hit close to the area where North Korea conducts nuclear tests.

North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear weapon earlier this month at its underground Punggye-ri site northeast of Pyongyang, causing a quake with a magnitude of around 6.3. The move escalated tensions with the U.S. and North Korea's neighbors, and this week its foreign minister said the regime's options included testing a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

There have been concerns about the stability of the nuclear test site since the Sept. 3 test. Website 38 North said satellite imagery taken after that test appeared to show landslides atop the site that were more numerous and widespread than after the previous five tests.

The site, run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, added the bomb's 250-kiloton yield was close to what it previously determined was the maximum that could be contained by the test site.

The earthquake could be the result of a cave-in following the test earlier this month.  But given Kim Jong-un's bellicose and bombastic speech at the U.N., it is just as likely that Kim took the opportunity to spit in the eye of President Trump to test another weapon.

A military response from the U.S. is not likely, even if it was a test.  The recently imposed sanctions will be given time to take effect before military action is contemplated.  An attack on North Korea now would undercut the recent decision by China to suspend financial transactions with the North and ban oil exports and textile imports.  That was a big concession by China, and going to war against Kim now would have consequences far beyond the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

Kim is signing his own death warrant by continuing to test atomic weapons.  Not only are his actions provoking the U.S., but they are alienating the only real friend he has in the world: China.

With both sides poised to go to war, Kim shows no sign of accommodating the world's demand that he dismantle his nuclear and ICBM programs.  That doesn't bode well for the near future, as it appears likely that Kim will continue to stir the pot until it boils over.