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Natural disaster in North Korea raises suspicions of weapons test

13 October 2017

"The event has earthquake-like characteristics, however, we can not conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event", the U.S. agency told AFP.

South Korea has detected a fourth small quake near North Korea's main nuclear test site after the country's sixth and most powerful nuclear test explosion last month.

Meanwhile, the South Korea Meteorological Administration posted on its official website that "analysis shows it was a natural quake".

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Today (Thursday), a relatively weak 2.9 magnitude quake was recorded near the North Korean town of Sungjibaegam.

North Korea's last nuclear test on September 3 caused a 6.3 magnitude quake, according to the USGS.

Maps showing the epicentre of a 2.9 quake in North Korea, left, along with the location of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, right. The tremor was the latest in a string of at least three shocks to be observed since Pyongyang's September 3 nuclear test, which caused a 6.3 magnitude natural disaster. "If it goes ahead with another test in this area, it could risk radioactive pollution".

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The last time a weapon was detonated at the site, a magnitude-6.3 natural disaster was detected. In July, North Korea carried out two tests of ballistic missiles, and on August 29 and September 15 it launched two missiles, which flew over Japan's territory.

These disturbances are more numerous and widespread than seen after any of the North's previous tests, 38 North has said. "The recent small quakes suggest that the test might have triggered crust deformation". Since North Korea began testing its nuclear capabilities, experts have debated whether explosions at Punggye-ri could trigger another volcanic eruption.

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Natural disaster in North Korea raises suspicions of weapons test