Published: Sun, September 24, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Tillerson stresses diplomacy on North Korea amid threats

Tillerson stresses diplomacy on North Korea amid threats

A magnitude 3.5 quake was recorded in North Korea Saturday evening, and officials were trying to determine whether it was a natural tremor or a nuclear blast.

A magnitude 3.0 quake has been detected in North Korea around where a nuclear test recently took place but it has been assessed as natural, South Korea's weather agency said.

The move escalated tensions with the USA 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.

There's been a cap on North Korean exports of coal to China, a major source of income for the North Korean state.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says North Korea's Kim Jong Un is "being tested" by the strongest sanctions ever put in place by the USA and the worldwide community.

Ri wouldn't have spoken without approval from Pyongyang's top leadership when he suggested to reporters in NY on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017 that the country could conduct an atmospheric hydrogen bomb test to fulfill the vows of the country's leader Kim Jong Un.

The ban on textiles, North Korea's second largest export, is expected to cost the country around $700 million a year.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho spoke to reporters in NY, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly and is scheduled to speak on Saturday. So far North Korea has been separately testing nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles built to deliver them, rather than testing them together.

North Korea's economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2016. A South Korean expert said the quake could have been caused by geological stress created from the recent nuclear explosion.

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"A likely explanation of the signals is an aftershock or rock failure resulting from the previous large underground nuclear test carried out on September 3, the agency said".

"The quake is presumed to have occurred naturally", an agency official said, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

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Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of Strategic Studies at Monterey, California, said: "Seismologists are very good at discriminating between earthquakes and explosions".

Kono said he looks forward to welcoming South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kang in Japan during a trilateral summit with China that the three governments plan to hold by the end of the year.

Beijing has repeatedly expressed concern about the rise of tensions over North Korea and, while it too has signed up for the increasingly tough United Nations sanctions, it has also urged a return to talks and for all parties to exercise restraint.

In response, the United Nations passed a range of new sanctions against North Korea, including petroleum and textiles restrictions.

Kono voiced hope for smoother relations with China, which has a range of disputes with Japan, including over territory and wartime history.

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