The U.S. Geological Survey said on Saturday it could not conclusively confirm whether a magnitude 3.5 quake detected in North Korea was manmade or natural.
Numerous scientific agencies on both sides of the Pacific detected an quake Saturday near the site where North Korea set off a hydrogen bomb earlier this month, at first prompting speculation of another weapons test, before a consensus appeared to emerge that the tremor was a natural occurrence.
The quake also caps a week in which President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un exchanged increasingly bellicose insults toward each other and follows a threat on Thursday by the North to carry out a significantly more unsafe nuclear test.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday (Sept 21) that negotiation remained the only solution on North Korea and warned its neighbours not to pursue their own nuclear weapons. On its website, the USGS said that it "cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event". "This mission is a demonstration of USA resolve and a clear message that the President has many military options". They also argue against doing anything that might hurt ordinary North Koreans.
In a rare direct statement, Kim said that Trump would "pay dearly" for the threats, and that North Korea "will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history".
The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website that China would limit exports of refined petroleum products from October 1 and ban exports of condensates and liquefied natural gas immediately to comply with the latest United Nations sanctions.
The secretary of state defended Trump's blunt rhetoric in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in NY on Tuesday, in which the president threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if the United States is "forced to defend itself or its allies", prompting astonished gasps from some in the audience.
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The broadcaster gave no date for the test , although officials had said on Friday that it would be tested "soon". Under the pact, Tehran agreed to restrict its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Terming North Korea's latest violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions as a source of deep regret, the spokeswoman said, "We are convinced that now it is more important than ever before for all parties involved to stop escalating tensions that are accompanying every new round of reactions and counter reactions". 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. The larger one had a 3.4 magnitude, the group's initial assessment found, which is much smaller than anything declared as a nuclear test in previous years.
Mr Trump delivered a combative speech on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly, where he mocked Kim as a "Rocket Man" on a "suicide mission".
He said sanctions would have no effect on Pyongyang's resolve to develop its nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal being "balance of power with the US".
North Korea has said it intends to build a missile capable of striking all parts of the United States with a nuclear bomb.
"The fire roughnecks who enjoy playing with fire, will die in fire", the news agency said.
The Commerce Ministry in Beijing said that starting on October 1, China would limit supplies of refined petroleum products, local media reports. "We have developed strong allies and strong alliances internationally".