National Security

Tremors at North Korea Nuclear Test Site

While Oaxaca, Mexico endures the latest in a series of bona fide “jittery” earthquakes, a tremor in North Korea is suspect. The possibility of the latest blast being a natural earthquake exists. However, with the litany of nuclear threats and actual string of tests lately, it may be another in a series of flaunts by North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un exhibiting his nuclear mite.

On September 23, 2017, a 3.5 magnitude blast was detected, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

In The Straits Times, it was reported that the South Korean government believes this morning’s blast,”was probably not man-made, the nuclear proliferation watchdog and a South Korean official said, easing fears that Pyongyang had exploded another nuclear bomb just weeks after its last one.”

However, a polarizing perspective from the Chinese government contradicted S. Korean experts’ claims: “Chinese earthquake officials said the magnitude 3.4 quake detected at 0829 GMT (4.29pm Singapore time) was a ‘suspected explosion,'” as per The Straits Times.

A South Korean official who wished anonymity proclaimed his government’s assessment: “A key method is to look at the seismic waves or seismic acoustic waves and the latter can be detected in the case of a man-made earthquake. In this case we saw none. So as of now, we are categorizing this as a natural earthquake,” reported The Straits Times.

In actuality, the Korea Meteorological Administration registered/reported two “earthquakes” this morning. The other earlier earthquake, in the same area of the main/larger one being reported internationally, measured a 2.6 magnitude.

Despite the variants, the location lends credence to China’s assertion since North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear testing facility is where this morning’s seismic detection was recorded.

North Korea’s Punggye-ri site “is thought to be the North’s main nuclear facility and the only active nuclear testing site in the world”

Self-Destruction?

We’ve heard from China, and we also heard from S. Korea. The US Geological Survey (USGS) contends, “We cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event. The depth is poorly constrained and has been held to 5 km by the seismologist.” As of this writing, the USGS has not updated its findings.

Facebook comments replying to this morning’s blast suggest the possibility of saving us and our allies from having to react at all by way of North Korea tip-toeing around self-destruction.

One reply (implication) was: “How many tests in one area does it take to fracture the tectonic plate?” That implies Kim Jong-un conducting enough nuclear testing to do himself (and his people) in for good, by way of deteriorating its own operational grounds thus causing nature to shift. A Facebook reply to “tectonic plate” aggravation elucidated, “the deeper the test, the more damage to the faults.”

It’s plausible, but I would think N. Korean nuclear experts would have that in-mind.

According to bbc.com, North Korea’s Punggye-ri site “is thought to be the North’s main nuclear facility and the only active nuclear testing site in the world” where all six of its nuclear tests in the last 11 years have been. Thus it is a hotbed of activity, both man-made and potentially natural.

A CNN report reflected these speculations per a Korea Meteorological Administration analyst: “Park Jong-shin, an analyst for the agency, agreed the latest earthquakes might be aftershocks. It is assumed that the earthquakes occurred because of North Korea’s latest nuclear test.”

Coupling the North Korean nuclear activities and mixed interpretations regarding this morning’s two seismic movements, is karma knocking at the door?

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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