After a 5.0 magnitude artificial earthquake was detected near North Korea’s nuclear test site, analysts said that country appears to have conducted its fifth nuclear test.
The U.S. Geological Survey and European agencies measured the quake, which was recorded at 0030 GMT, with a magnitude of 5.3. Agencies in China, reclusive North Korea’s main diplomatic ally, also recorded the tremor, media reported.
The suspected test came as North Korea celebrates the “day of the foundation of the republic,” the 68th anniversary of the formation of the communist regime by Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather.
The USGS, on its website, said: “Possible explosion, located near the location where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the past.If this is indeed an explosion, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center cannot determine what type of explosion it may be, whether nuclear or any other possible type.”
According to a report in Washington Post, South Korea’s national security council convened an emergency meeting, and Japan said it was highly likely that the explosion was a nuclear test.
In Washington, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement: “We are aware of seismic activity on the Korean Peninsula in the vicinity of a known North Korean nuclear test site. We are monitoring and continuing to assess the situation in close coordination with our regional partners.”
Analysts were convinced it was a nuclear test.
Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said it appeared to be the biggest of North Korea’s five tests.
“This is clearly a nuclear test,” Lewis said. “USGS is calling it an explosion because it has all the hallmarks: the waveform is sudden unlike an earthquake, the depth is shallow, the location is the North Korean test site and it happened on the half hour.”