3.5-magnitude quake rattles North Korea near nuclear test site

North Korea claims sanctions threaten the survival of its children

A magnitude 3.0 quake detected in North Korea has been assessed as natural, South Korea's weather agency said.

A USA government intelligence analyst said the events could have been a "mine-type" collapse of tunnels damaged by North Korea's previous nuclear test, but was more likely a small natural disaster.

South Korea's weather agency said its analysis had determined that the quake's origin was probably "natural", the Yonhap News Agency reported.

A second tremor soon after that test was possibly caused by a "cave-in", CENC said at the time.

The document directed banks to explain to any North Korean customers that "our bank is fulfilling our global obligations and implementing United Nations sanctions against North Korea".

In an earlier report, Yun of Pusan National University predicted that a volcanic eruption could lead to tremors in South Korea so strong that high buildings could have their windows shattered and walls could be left with serious cracks.

Beijing has condemned the North's missile tests, but hopes to resolve the nuclear crisis through diplomatic means, pleading for a resumption of long-dormant six-nation talks.

The administration said in a statement on its website that the quake, which occurred around 8.30pm GMT (9.30pm, NZT), was recorded a depth of zero kilometres.

Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), tweeted the quake was "unlikely Man-made!"

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement on its website that exports of refined petroleum to Pyongyang will be limited to 2 million barrels a year effective October 1.

On Thursday Trump announced new US sanctions that he said allows the targeting of companies and institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea.

Under Kim Jong Un's leadership, Pyongyang carried out several intercontinental ballistic missile tests, including 20 missile tests in 2016.

The main reason for North Korea to take that risk would be to quiet outside doubts about whether it really has a thermonuclear weapon small enough to fit on a missile, said Jeffrey Lewis, a USA arms control expert at the Middlebury Center of International Studies at Monterey.

His comments came after Trump ordered new sanctions on individuals, companies and banks doing business with North Korea as he sought to further isolate the regime and increase economic pressure for it to curb its weapons programs.

Chinese government announced it will ban exports of some petroleum products to North Korea, as well as imports of textiles from the isolated North.

The Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said China's cutting of oil exports to North Korea was a key move in the attempts to force the country to the negotiating table.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that under the new executive order, any person or company anywhere in the world who is caught doing business with North Korea will be subject to USA sanctions, and essentially cut off from the US financial system.

North Korea's last nuclear test - its sixth to date - was detected as a 6.3-magnitude natural disaster September 3 and was followed by a 4.1-magnitude quake that experts said could have been a tunnel collapsing after the nuclear explosion.

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