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NUKEWARS
US warplanes fly off NKorea coast; China says quake not nuke test
By Daniel WOOLLS
Washington (AFP) Sept 24, 2017


North Korea quake not a nuclear test, say China experts
Beijing (AFP) Sept 24, 2017 - A shallow 3.5-magnitude earthquake which hit North Korea near the country's nuclear test site on Saturday was not the result of a fresh nuclear test, China's seismic service said, after initially reporting a "suspected explosion".

The China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC) said in a statement late Saturday that study of infrasonic data determined "the incident is not a nuclear explosion, but had the nature of a natural earthquake".

The Chinese Academy of Sciences also released a report saying the earthquake was likely a "lagged collapse earthquake", echoing international experts' hypotheses that the earthquake was a delayed repercussion of a previous detonation.

The North's last nuclear test, on September 3, was the country's most powerful, triggering a much stronger 6.3-magnitude quake that was felt across the border in China.

Monitoring groups estimate the nuclear test had a yield of 250 kilotons, which is 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Lavrov says US will not strike North Korea
Moscow (AFP) Sept 24, 2017 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday that the United States would not carry out a strike on North Korea because it knows Pyongyang has nuclear bombs.

"The Americans won't carry out a strike on (North) Korea because it's not that they suspect, they know for sure that it has nuclear bombs," Lavrov said in an interview with Russia's NTV television aired Sunday.

"I'm not defending North Korea, I'm just saying that almost everyone agrees with such an analysis," the Russian diplomat said.

North Korea this month carried out an underground test on a hydrogen bomb estimated to be 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. It was its sixth and largest nuclear test.

Lavrov said the crisis can only be resolved with a softer approach.

"Only with caresses, suggestion and persuasion," Lavrov said, when asked how.

He warned that if US did not take the same approach, "we could drop into a very unpredictable nosedive and tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens of South Korea but also North Korea, of course, and Japan will suffer -- and Russia and China are nearby."

The interview aired after President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was "deeply concerned" at the escalation of tensions.

Peskov also criticised what he called "an exchange of rather rude statements replete with threats."

Lavrov at the United Nations on Friday described the rhetoric between leaders of the United States and North Korea as a "kindergarden fight between children" and urged calm.

In his first address to the world gathering on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy North Korea."

North Korean leader Kim Yong-un shot back at Trump, warning he would "pay dearly" for his threat.

US bombers and fighter escorts flew off the coast of North Korea Saturday in a show of force against its nuclear weapons program, escalating already sky-high tensions.

The hermit state's foreign minister meanwhile derided Donald Trump as "mentally deranged" at the United Nations, while the US president fired back on Twitter with fresh threats.

The latest exchange of bellicose rhetoric comes as international alarm mounts over Pyongyang's weapons ambitions -- including a suggestion this week that the country is considering detonating an H-bomb over the Pacific.

US bombers have carried out similar flights before, as the United States and the international community struggle to rein in North Korea's weapons programs.

But in a new stage for such show-of-force operations, the Pentagon stressed this was the furthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas that any US fighter or bomber has flown off North Korea's coast in this century.

"This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

"We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies."

The Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flown Saturday are based in Guam, and were accompanied by F-15C Eagle fighter escorts from Okinawa, Japan, White said. They flew over international waters off the east coast of North Korea.

There was another reason for concern after an underground rumble near North Korea's nuclear test site. China at first said it suspected an explosion.

But it was later ruled by a nuclear test ban watchdog and other experts to be a shallow 3.5-magnitude earthquake and likely an aftershock from the hermit state's latest nuclear test on September 3.

This week saw a blistering war of words between Kim and Trump, with the US leader using his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly to warn that Washington would "totally destroy" the North if America or its allies were threatened.

- 'Full of megalomania' -

Pyongyang, which says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against the threat of a US invasion, responded on Friday with a rare personal rebuke from Kim, who called Trump "mentally deranged" and threatened the "highest level of hardline countermeasure in history."

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho took things further. He, too, dismissed Trump as deranged, and said the US president's threats had increased the chances of military confrontation.

Ri told the UN General Assembly in New York that Trump's vow to "totally destroy" his country had made "our rockets' visit to the entire US mainland all the more inevitable."

Describing Trump as a "mentally deranged person full of megalomania," Ri said the US leader who "holds the nuclear button" posed "the gravest threat to international peace and security today."

Trump later responded on Twitter, insulting Kim once more and appearing to threaten both men.

"Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" he wrote late Saturday night.

Washington announced tougher restrictions Friday aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile program, building on tough new UN sanctions aimed at choking Pyongyang of cash.

Russia and China have both appealed for an end to the escalating rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang.

But on the fringes of the UN meeting this week, Ri upped the tensions further, telling reporters Pyongyang might now consider detonating a hydrogen bomb outside its territory.

Monitoring groups estimate that the nuclear test conducted in North Korea earlier this month had a yield of 250 kilotons, which is 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

NUKEWARS
Kim's words find rapt audience in Pyongyang
Pyongyang (AFP) Sept 22, 2017
An expectant hush fell on the crowd as the giant screen outside Pyongyang's main train station went black on Friday afternoon. Workers, students in grey uniforms, travelling families surrounded by piles of bags, women shielding themselves from the late summer sun with frilly parasols, for several minutes they all gazed at the rectangle with anticipation. White text appeared on a red back ... read more

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