North Korean Tremor Raises Fear of Nuke Test













A large tremor measured at magnitude 4.9 was detected in North Korea and governments in the region scrambled to determine whether it was a nuclear test that the North Korean regime has vowed to carry out despite international protests.


Japan's prime minister has called an urgent security meeting, according to chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, and South Korea raised its military alert level, the AP reported.


Suspicions were aroused when the U.S. Geological Survey said it had detected a magnitude 4.9 earthquake Tuesday in North Korea.


The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization told ABC News, "We confirm that a suspicious seismic event has taken place in North Korea." The agency said it was trying to confirm the nature of the tremor.


"The event shows clear explosion-like characteristics and its location is roughly congruent with the 2006 and 2009 DPRK (North Korea) nuclear tests," said Tibor Toth, executive secretary of the organization.










North Korea Threatens More Nuclear Tests, Warns U.S. Watch Video







"If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act would constitute a clear threat to international peace and security, and challenges efforts made to strengthen global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," Toth said in a statement on the organization's web site.


Kim Min-seok, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman, told reporters that North Korea informed United States and China that it intended to carry out another nuclear test, according to the AP. But U.S. officials did not respond to calls from ABC News Monday night.


The seismic force measured 10 kilotons, according to Min-seok.


"Now that's an absolutely huge explosion by conventional terms. It's a smallish, but not tiny explosion by nuclear terms. It's about two-thirds the size of the bomb that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima," James Acton, a Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told ABC News.


North Korea threatened in January to carry out a "higher-level" test following the successful Dec. 12 launch of a long range rocket. At the time, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un said his country's weapons tests were specifically targeting the United States.


The suspicious tremor comes just hours before President Obama is to give the State of the Union address, and it marks the first diplomatic test in the region for new Secretary of State John Kerry.


China, North Korea's main ally in the region, has warned North Korea it would cut back severely needed food assistance if it carried out a test. Each year China donates approximately half of the food North Korea lacks to feed its people and half of all oil the country consumes.



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