A powerful 3.4 magnitude earthquake has rocked North Korea, sparking fears nuclear-obsessed nation may have conducted yet another nuclear test.The tremor was detected in the Kilju area in North Hamgyong province hours after Donald Trump mocked ‘madman’ Kim Jong-un and the dictator called US President a ‘rabid dog’.The earthquake was felt at 3.30am ET (8.30am GMT) at a depth of zero miles, with China’s official Xinhua News Agency saying it was a ‘suspected explosion’.A tremor earlier this month was caused by Kim’s sixth nuclear test so it’s no surprise there are fears this is another. The quake detected Saturday was near one of communist state’s nuclear test sites.However, South Korea’s weather agency claims they believe it may have been a natural earthquake.It comes amid growing tensions between US and North Korea.During a rally in Alabama on Friday, the US President doubled-down on his attacks on Kim, calling him ‘little rocket man’ and a ‘madman’.He told ‘We can’t have madmen out there, shooting rockets all over the place.’And by the way, the Rocket Man should’ve been handled a long time ago.’And on Saturday morning, North Korea’s state media released a statement describing Trump as ‘wicked’ and a ‘rabid dog’.’He, who cried out the extermination of the Korean nation, is a blood thirsty beast indulged in massacring,’ the statement from the National Peace Committee of Korea, released by the Korean Central News Agency, read.’It is necessary not to make Trump, a source of the world’s worst misfortune, survive to run amok and not to make the US exist on this planet as it only inflicts untold suffering and misfortune upon Korean nation and humankind.’
Using his inaugural speech at the UN earlier this week, Trump took aim at Kim and his reckless arms race.
NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR TESTS
October 9, 2006: 0.7-2 kilotons
May 25, 2009: 2-5.4 kilotons
February 12, 2013: 6-16 kilotons
January 6, 2016: 7-10 kilotons
September 9, 2016: 15-25 kilotons
September 3, 2017: 100 kilotons
President Trump urged international community to take a tougher stance against Pyongyang and issued a stern warning that the US would retaliate and ‘totally destroy’ North Korea if it were to launch an attack on America or its allies.The Republican also launched a stinging personal attack on Kim, labelling him a ‘rocket man on a suicide mission’.Despite Trump’s warnings, North Korea vowed it would continue to progress its bid to become a fully-fledged nuclear state.North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho openly admitted it plans to test a hydrogen bomb in Pacific Ocean.
North Korea’s top diplomat said the country planned to test the bomb to fulfill Kim’s vow to take the ‘highest level of hardline countermeasure in history’ against the US.Kim confirmed his nuclear program was on the ‘correct path’ this week.’His remarks… have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to last,’ Kim Jong-un said in a statement.He called Trump ‘mentally deranged’ and said the US President’s comments were ‘the most ferocious declaration of war in history’.’I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire,’ Kim told in the rare direct statement, referring to Trump.’He has made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.’A frightened dog barks louder.’
PYONGTANG’S NUCLEAR TIMELINE
Here are key dates in North Korea’s quest to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States:
Late 1970s: North Korea starts working on a version of Soviet Scud-B (range 300 kilometres or 185 miles). Test-fired in 1984.
1987-92: Begins developing variant of Scud-C (range 500 km), Rodong-1 (1,300 km), Taepodong-1 (2,500 km), Musudan-1 (3,000 km) and Taepodong-2 (6,700 km).
August 1998: Test-fires Taepodong-1 rocket over Japan in what it calls a satellite launch the US and others say it is a missile test.
September 1999: Declares moratorium on long range missile tests amid improving ties with US.
July 12, 2000: Fifth round of US-North Korean missile talks in Kuala Lumpur ends without agreement after North demands $1 billion a year in return for halting missile exports.
March 3, 2005: Pyongyang ends moratorium on long-range missile testing, blames Bush administration’s ‘hostile’ policy.
The tests came after North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday in violation of UN resolutions which it said was an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile
July 5, 2006: Test-fires seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 which explodes after 40 seconds.
October 9, 2006: Conducts underground nuclear test, its first.
April 5, 2009: Launches long-range rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific, in what it says is an attempt to put a satellite into orbit. The United States, Japan and South Korea see it as a disguised test of a Taepodong-2.
May 25, 2009: Conducts its second underground nuclear test, several times more powerful than the first.
April 13, 2012: Launches what it has said is a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit, but which disintegrates soon after blast off.
December 12, 2012: Launches a multi-stage rocket and successfully places an Earth observational satellite in orbit.
February 12, 2013: Conducts its third underground nuclear test.
January 6, 2016: Conducts its fourth underground nuclear test, which it says was a hydrogen bomb a claim doubted by most experts.
March 9, 2016: Kim Jong-Un claims the North has successfully miniaturised a thermo-nuclear warhead.
April 23, 2016: Pyongyang test-fires a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
July 8, 2016: US and South Korea announce plans to deploy an advanced missile defence system THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense).
August 3, 2016: North Korea fires a ballistic missile directly into Japan’s maritime economic zone for the first time.
September 9, 2016: Conducts fifth nuclear test, its most powerful to date.
March 6, 2017: Fires four ballistic missiles in what it says is an exercise to hit US bases in Japan.
March 7, 2017: US begins deploying THAAD missile defence system in South Korea.
May 14, 2017: North Korea fires a ballistic missile which flies 700 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan. Analysts say it has an imputed range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) and brings Guam within reach.
July 4, 2017: Test-fires a ballistic missile that analysts say brings Alaska within reach. Pyongyang later says it was a ‘landmark’ test of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
July 28, 2017: Launches an ICBM with a theoretical range of 10,000 kilometres, meaning it could hit much of the United States.
August 26, 2017: Fires three short-range ballistic missiles.
August 29, 2017: Fires ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific, acknowledging for the first time that it has done so. South Korea says it flew around 2,700 kilometres at a maximum altitude of about 550 kilometres.
September 3, 2017: North Korea appears to carry out sixth nuclear test, with seismic monitors measuring an ‘explosion’ of 6.3 magnitude near its main test site. Japan’s government confirms a nuclear test has been carried out.