Moon Sees No Other Option but Pressure on N. Korea for Now

A North Korean student pauses to study as other people make their way to work during morning rush hour

The natural disaster comes after days of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's regime over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions that has raised worldwide alarm. "So as of now, we are categorising this as a natural quake".

The remarks came a short time after Trump signed an executive order aimed at companies and financial institutions that do business with North Korea. Other possible causes include landslides or the collapsing of test structures such as tunnels, said Hong Tae-kyung, a professor at the department of Earth System Sciences at Yonsei University.

President Moon Jae-in says the only viable option right now to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue is uniting the worldwide community in pressing the regime. "The quake is small enough to suspect that it could have been caused by a tunnel collapse, and satellite data shows there have been many landslides in the area since the nuclear test".

China has moved to limit North Korea's oil supply and will stop buying textiles from the politically isolated nation, it says. The news agency issued a fresh report later, saying the seismic service after further study concluded the quake was natural and not the result of a nuclear test.

The quake, which South Korea put at magnitude 3.0, was detected in Kilju county in North Hamgyong Province, where North Korea's known Punggyeri nuclear site is located, the official said.

"This mission is a demonstration of United States resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options to defeat any threat", said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, calling North Korea's weapons program "a grave threat".

The majority of North Korea's oil likely comes from China, but exactly how much the Asian giant exports to its neighbour remains unknown, as Beijing has not published such data since 2014.

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Tests of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles are rarer still.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, a watchdog group that works to end nuclear testing worldwide, said there were two seismic events Saturday in North Korea, neither of very large magnitude.

In the past earthquakes in North Korea have indicated nuclear tests by the nation, which is now sparring with the United States over weapons capabilities.

Elleman said the missile of choice in a North Korean atmospheric H-bomb test likely would be its longest-range ballistic missile, known as the Hwasong-14, which apparently has the capability of reaching the US mainland, or the intermediate-range Hwasong-12. "It would violate longstanding worldwide norms and would be a major challenge to the USA and Japan, in the latter case because it would overfly Japan's territory". It will also ban imports of textiles from North Korea.

North Korea just intimated that it may test a nuclear weapon somewhere above the Pacific Ocean.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!" the president tweeted.


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