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Consecutive earthquakes in North Korea suggest latest nuclear test

Consecutive earthquakes in North Korea suggest latest nuclear test

The North's Korean Central Television said earlier that the ruling party's political bureau standing committee held a meeting Sunday morning presided over by leader Kim Jong-un and made a decision to conduct the test.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, citing Chinese officials, said a second quake with a magnitude of 4.6 was detected near the nuclear test site, raising concern of a possible tunnel collapse.

The U.S Geological Survey said it had recorded a 6.3 magnitude quake exactly at noon Sunday local time, near North Korea's known nuclear test site in the country's northeast region.

The last time the North Korean government conducted a nuclear test was almost a year ago on September 8, 2016, prompting a rebuke from then-president Obama and the United Nation's Security Council.

Japan concluded the tremors detected in North Korea were a nuclear explosion, marking the sixth atomic test by Pyongyang since 2006.

South Korea's weather agency says an apparent nuclear test by North Korea appears to have been several times stronger than its previous test.

It came as USA and South Korean forces were nearing the end of the 10-day annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint exercises, which the North regards as a rehearsal for invasion.

The tremor's detection came hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the loading of a hydrogen bomb into a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

"If North Korea did indeed conduct a nuclear test, we absolutely can not tolerate and must protest firmly".

South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered a National Security Council meeting to be held at 1:30 p.m.at the Blue House.

North Korea claims the test was a "total success", although there is some evidence that part of the tunnel at the testing site collapsed after the test. Trump has been warning the Kim regime not to test him, warning on Twitter that the American military was "locked and loaded".

Japan's defense minister says the larger magnitude of the natural disaster suggests "capability significantly exceeding the last one".

The somewhat dubious Sunday claim by the state-run media in Pyongyang, true or not, quickly racheted up tensions in both the US and Japan.

The development comes amid heightened regional tension following launch of an intermediate-range missile by North Korea that flew over Japan. Fears of an EMP strike by North Korea have circulated for years among some US policy makers, though others have openly dismissed the possibility of Pyongyang launching such a strike.

A report also adds that the language behind this statement is a clear signal that Pyongyang is indeed planning to conduct its sixth nuclear weapon test.

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