Small Earthquake Rattles North Korea, and the World's Nerves


According to USA intelligence sources, the most recent test detonated a 140-kiloton nuclear device, which the North Koreans claim was a hydrogen bomb. In response, the United Nations passed a range of new sanctions against North Korea, including petroleum and textiles restrictions. Since Kim came to power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in 2011, he has ramped up nuclear and missile weapon tests.

The main reason for North Korea to take that risk would be to quiet outside doubts about whether it really has a thermonuclear weapon small enough to fit on a missile, said Jeffrey Lewis, a USA arms control expert at the Middlebury Center of International Studies at Monterey.

Hawaii officials have reportedly been urging residents to prepare for a nuclear attack, the stunning plea coming amid increasingly unnerving rhetoric - and actions - from North Korea.

Similarly, the textile sector is a significant provider of jobs: The most recent North Korean census in 2008 showed that almost 400,000 workers were employed in the textile manufacturing sector - and that was before the rapid growth of Chinese outsourcing to the North.

The North Korean economy is doing better than is commonly thought.

On Thursday, Trump also issued an executive order expanding the Treasury Department's ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea and to ban them from the USA financial system.

The quake came at the end of a week that saw a blistering war of words between Kim and Trump, with the United States leader using his maiden speech at the UN General Assembly to warn that Washington would "totally destroy" the North if America or its allies were threatened. "From that time, will implement ban on exporting refined petroleum products to rest of year", he said. The blast occurred at 5:00 p.m. (Pyongyang time) just 30 miles from the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site in Kilju in North Hamgyeong Province. Washington has increased pressure on Pyongyang through worldwide sanctions.

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In the 2016 "US-Korea Yearbook", published in the spring by the US-Korea Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies, Han May Chan, then a second-year student, briefly laid out the argument that the success of economic sanctions against North Korea might depend on China's participation. So far, North Korea has been separately testing nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles built to deliver them, rather than testing them together. Financial institutions are particularly at risk of theft as North Korea bleeds funds to support its nuclear program.

Shin: By amassing a nuclear arsenal, North Korea hopes to secure the Kim regime internally and externally. The country lacks assets to air-drop a nuclear device, and sending a vessel out to sea to detonate a device raises the chances of getting detected and stopped by the US military.

"The key vulnerability is the military - but presumably their stockpiles are prioritized and well coordinated with decisions about the nuclear and missile programmes", he said.

"They have done insane things and tend to carry through with what they have said", Kristensen said in an email exchange. As is now the case with North Korea, the United States continually downplayed Chinese technical capabilities.

But the official from the South Korean agency said the analysis of seismic waves and the lack of sound waves clearly showed that the quake was not caused by an artificial explosion.

The exercises were meant to underscore "the seriousness with which we take DPRK's reckless behavior", White said, using an acronym for North Korea.