North Korea is rumored to have conducted a third nuclear test after earthquake monitoring stations detected an “unusual seismic event” in the region.
Numerous monitoring agencies across the globe picked up a series of tremors on Tuesday deemed to be “unnatural.” Tibor Tóth, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, described the location of the tremors as “roughly congruent with the 2006 and 2009 DPRK nuclear tests.”
The US Geological Survey has confirmed the tremors were located slightly north of a site used by North Korea for its second nuclear test in 2009.
South Korea has raised its military alert level in the hours since the “quake” and is currently investigating whether the tremors were the result of a test. While nuclear blasts create tremors, they are distinguishable from those caused by natural earthquakes. Tóth added:
“If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act would constitute a clear threat to international peace and security, and challenges efforts made to strengthen global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, in particular by ending nuclear testing.”
Meanwhile, Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga has told a news conference in Tokyo:
“We think it is possible [the recorded tremors] came about as a result of a nuclear test by North Korea from looking at past cases.”
And Yosuke Igarashi at the Japan Meteorological Agency said:
“A natural earthquake normally starts with a smaller tremor followed by a larger one. This quake’s strength was the same throughout.”
North Korea revealed it would carry out further nuclear tests in an announcement released last month. The bellicose statement added that North Korea regarded the United States as its “sworn enemy.” The hermit state pins much of the blame for new UN sanctions on Washington.