Large seismic activity reported near known nuclear test site
February 11, 2013
Update 1300EST: North Korea’s offiicial state mouthpiece the KCNA said the nuclear explosion ‘great, stronger and higher’ than last time, and had ‘no negative impacts’.
Update 1248EST: The Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary said in a press conference at 1330 local time they would take “all possible measures to prepare for any contingencies in order to ensure safety and peace of mind of the public” and asked that people “carry on with their normal lives and activities as normal.
Update 1245EST: South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye received an emergency briefing from transition team officials Tuesday on what appeared to be North Korea’s third nuclear test, officials said.
Update 1237EST: South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Minister Kim Sung-hwan spoke with U.S. Sec of State John Kerry after nuclear test reports.
Update 1205 EST: USGS upgrades report of 4.9 magnitude test to 5.1.
Update 1203 EST: Earthquake of 4.6M reported in China just two minutes before suspected North Korean nuclear detonation. Earthquake took place near Tibet. (http://bit.ly/XtzSN1)
Update 1148 EST: CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Toth makes a statement on activity: ”The event shows explosion-like characteristics and its location is roughly congruent with the 2006 and 2009 DPRK nuclear tests…If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act would constitute a clear threat to international peace and security.”
Update 1142EST: Steve Herman at Voice of America reports that a source in Yanji, China, reported that a swaying motion was felt for 10 seconds around the time of the blast. Yonhap add that 163 nationals residing in the Kaesong Industrial Complex are reported to be safe.
Update 1139EST: Reports suggest the test could have been anywhere between 6-10 kilotons. South Korean authorities are currently warning of the potential for a second test imminently.
Update 1114EST: United Nations Security Council will convene at 9AM tomorrow to discuss the test. South Korea holds the current presidency of the Security Council.
Update 10:58 EST: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announces emergency meeting with the National Security Council at 1300KST, while other reports suggest North Korea already warned U.S. and China of test
Reports suggest that North Korea may have conducted a third nuclear test following reports of a 4.9 magnitude earthquake in DPRK territory.
The U.S. Geological Survey (UGCS) has reported large seismic activity in northern North Korea on 02:57:51 UTC Tuesday, not far from the site of the secretive regime’s two previous nuclear tests.
The area around the reported epicenter of the magnitude 4.9 disturbance has little or no history of earthquakes or natural seismic hazards, according to U.S. Geological Survey maps. The disturbance took place at a depth of about 1 kilometer in Punggye-ri, the USGS said, 24km ENE of Kilju County, North Hamkyung Province.
Pyongyang gave “advanced notice” of the test to the U.S. and China, a South Korean official told theYonhap news agency. John Swenson-Wright, Chatham House fellow and Senior Lecturer in East Asian studies at the University of Cambridge said:
“The test is no surprise, although reports from South Korea that the North had informed the US and China a day before the test are unusual. This may indicate a desire (perhaps misguided and naive) on the part of Pyongyang to minimize the political consequences of having tested.”
“A key question now will be determining the size and nature of the test. Expect governments and scientists to be looking for evidence of radioactive isotope gas traces, alongside signs of seismic activity, to gauge nature of tests.”
In terms of the yield, North Korea nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis said on Twitter that the seismic reaction would mean a nuclear device of,
Current estimates put the yield of the device as 6 to 7 kilotonnes. The first device detonated by North Korea in October 2006 produced an explosive yield at less than 1 kiloton of TNT. A second test in May 2009 was believed to be approximately in the range of 2-4 kilotons.