Quake detected near North Korea nuclear test zone 'occurred naturally'

China, Russia begin naval drills close to North Korea

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

Tensions have been high between North Korea and the United States since July, when the North test-fired two ICBMs purportedly capable of targeting the mainland US.

A USA intelligence official and US -based non-governmental experts said their initial assessment was that the quake was either natural or connected to North Korea's latest and largest nuclear test on Sept.3, and not caused by a new nuclear test.

While China reports a possible explosion in North Korea, the South's weather agency believes the quake was natural, noting that some of the characteristics of artificial earthquakes, specifically the sound waves, were not detected.

Ri did not respond when asked by reporters whether North Korea had conducted a new nuclear test.

All of North Korea's six nuclear tests registered as earthquakes of magnitude 4.3 or above.

North Korea has been maintaining a torrid pace in nuclear and weapons tests as it accelerates its pursuit of nuclear weapons that could viably target the United States and its allies in Asia.

The test, which Pyongyang said was a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), generated a magnitude-6.3 quake.

In two July flight tests, those missiles showed potential capability to reach deep into the United States mainland when perfected.

South Korea and Japan have reaffirmed their close coordination over North Korean issues.

Wang told Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting in NY that the situation on the Korean peninsula was getting increasingly serious and all sides needed to remain calm.

A secondary tremor detected after that test could have been caused by the collapse of a tunnel at the mountainous site, experts said at the time.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017.

The US Geological Survey said it was unable to confirm whether the event was natural. The euro fell against the dollar on Friday, retracing most of its previous day's gains as renewed flare-up of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington put pressure on euro.

USA analysts now estimate that North Korea may have as many as 60 nuclear weapons, according to a Washington Post report. Trump tweeted Friday that Kim was "obviously a madman" who would be "tested like never before". The move escalated tensions with the US 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.

A ban on textile imports from the North will go into effect immediately, the statement said.

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