(TOKYO) — A large tremor measured at magnitude 4.9 was detected by the U.S. Geological Survey in North Korea, and governments in the region are trying to determine whether it was a nuclear test that the North Korean regime has vowed to carry out despite international protests.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization told ABC News, “We confirm that a suspicious seismic event has taken place in North Korea.” The agency said it was trying to confirm the nature of the tremor.
In January, North Korea threatened to carry out a “higher-level” test following its successful Dec. 12 long-range rocket launch. At the time, North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-Un said his country’s weapons tests were specifically targeting the United States.
The suspicious tremor comes just hours before President Obama is to give the State of the Union address, and it marks the first diplomatic test in the region for new Secretary of State John Kerry.
China, North Korea’s main ally in the region, has warned North Korea it would cut back severely needed food assistance if it carried out a test. Each year, China donates approximately half of the food North Korea lacks to feed its people and half of all oil the country consumes.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN
Alisyn Camerota, CNN