North Korea's Continues Nuclear Testing May Raise Radioactive Pollution Risks

Violet Powell
October 14, 2017

We start in North Korea where a magnitude 2.9 quake registered shortly after midnight, striking near the regime's nuclear test site. "The event has earthquake-like characteristics, however, we can not conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event", the USGS said in a brief statement.

The US Geological Survey assessed it to be of 2.9 magnitude, originating 23 kilometers northeast of Sungjibaegam, Ryanggang Province, in North Korea.

Data released by China's General Administration of Customs showed China had a US$1.07 billion trade surplus with North Korea in the first nine months of this year. "The event has quake like characteristics, however, we can not conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event". However, since the September 3 underground nuke test, it has seen two other quakes of magnitude 2.6 and 3.2. It came three weeks after a 3.5-magnitude natural disaster struck near the same area, with seismic experts and a United Nations nuclear test ban watchdog calling that tremor on September 23 a likely aftershock of the North's sixth and largest nuclear test. "If it goes ahead with another test in this area, it could risk radioactive pollution", Kim So-gu, the head researcher at the Korea Seismological Institute, told Reuters. There is also a chance the nuclear tests could trigger a volcanic eruption at Mt. Paektu, which is a mountain about 60 miles away from the Punggye-ri region, CBS reported.

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September's nuclear test was so strong that it shook buildings in Russian Federation and China and was described as a "perfect success" by North Korea's state-run media.

The last time a weapon was detonated at the site, a magnitude-6.3 natural disaster was detected.

The area is considered stable and quakes do not normally occur there.

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