Hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly inspected a “super explosive” hydrogen bomb for its intercontinental ballistic missiles, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake was detected Sunday in North Korea.
If confirmed, it would be North Korea’s sixth nuclear test since 2006.
The U.S Geological Survey said the earthquake was detected at 12:36 p.m. Sunday local time, near North Korea’s known nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in the county’s northeast region. It had a depth of 14.3 miles.
South Korea’s Meteorological Administration called it a “man-made” earthquake.
The earthquake was felt in northern China in Yanji, near the North Korean border, according to local media.
China’s Earthquake Administration said it had detected a second tremor, just after the first, of 4.6 magnitude which it termed as “a collapse.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called emergency meetings of their national security council.
Abe said he “would not tolerate” another nuclear test.
Last September, a North Korean nuclear test registered as a 5.3-magnitude earthquake on a national holiday marking the 68th anniversary of the formation of the communist regime by Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather. That detonation, which was about as powerful as the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, defied U.N. sanctions.
North Korea’s fourth test was in January 2016 when it claimed to have used a hydrogen bomb. Other countries doubted the claim for lack of evidence. Experts said North Korea may have tested a “boosted” atomic bomb.
The North Korean regime said Kim watched as nuclear scientists loaded a hydrogen bomb onto a missile.
According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the Kim regime completed its most recent advance in atomic weaponry Saturday. The agency described the warhead as a “thermonuclear hydrogen bomb” with an adjustable explosive capacity of hundreds of kilotons.
The United States and other nations have not confirmed the veracity of North Korea’s claim.
“The H-bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens kiloton to hundreds kiloton, is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP [electromagnetic pulse] attack according to strategic goals,” KCNA reported in English.
In hydrogen bombs, fusion — the merging of atoms — is used to unleash energy, whereas atomic bombs use nuclear fission, or the splitting of atoms.
The development comes days after North Korea launched a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan, prompting an angry response from the United States and regional allies.
U.S. President Donald Trump has warned he would unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it continued to threaten the United States with nuclear missiles.
By Allen Cone and Eric DuVall